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Record low: TSA screened fewer than 100,000 travelers on Tuesday, a stunning drop

April 08, 2020
2 min read
Record low: TSA screened fewer than 100,000 travelers on Tuesday, a stunning drop
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It's no secret that the airline industry has been hammered by the fallout related to the coronavirus pandemic. In the U.S., the scale of the disruption may be best born out by screening numbers that have been plummeting at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints nationwide.

On Tuesday, the agency reached a new, grim milestone, screening just 97,130 travelers across all U.S. airports. It was the first time that screenings dipped below 100,000 during the current slump, and is the latest indicator of the headwinds the airline industry faces as a result of the virus.

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"Yes, it's a record low," TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in a Wednesday tweet.

The falloff in travelers has come with stunning speed. By comparison, TSA agents screened more than 2 million travelers on the same weekday one year ago.

In fact, screenings were still topping the 2 million mark as recently as March 8. Since then, the numbers have been in free fall.

Related: TSA screenings had already fallen by 90% late last month.

To put that in perspective, the number of travelers screened just on March 8 — about 2.1 million — roughly matches the combined number screened by the TSA during a 14-day span stretching from March 25 though Tuesday, April 7.

The unprecedented drop in demand has pushed the airline industry to the brink.

Airlines have responded by slashing their route networks and doing whatever they can to conserve cash. New York City's three major airports will see less than 100 daily departures between them from the big three U.S. airlines this month, almost all of them to destinations within the country.

Related: Coronavirus waivers in place at U.S. airlines.

Many carriers have also tried to skirt Department of Transportation regulations by offering travelers credits, instead of cash refunds, for canceled flights in an effort to balance their ledgers. That effort, however, has prompted a rebuke from the agency. The DOT advised airlines Friday that the tactic was unacceptable and could result in legal action against them.

The travel demand free-fall may not yet be over, and even when it ends, it's likely to take years before it recovers to pre-coronavirus levels.

Featured image by Barcroft Media via Getty Images

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases