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TSA shows how many people are flying right now, and what you should expect while traveling

Number of people traveling by air is on the rise

A man sits alone at an airport gate.
A man sits alone at an airport gate.

It likely didn’t come as too big of a surprise that when the global pandemic was declared this year amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, air travel plummeted.

According to Transportation Security Administration data, in March, the number of fliers was already significantly lower than the year before. But in less than one week, it dropped by more than half — from 1,519,192 fliers to 548,132. And airports reached a low of 87,534 travelers on April 14 of this year, compared to the same time last year at 2,208,688.

Though the number of travelers this week is still incredibly low compared to this time last year -- and the TSA accounts only for people screened at U.S. airports -- the current numbers are going up.

According to TSA, this week, airports recorded the highest number of travelers since the coronavirus pandemic began.

On Tuesday, the administration showed there were 441,255 travelers at airports in the U.S., compared to June 7, 2019, at 2,225,952 travelers.

That’s a jump of more than 350,000 travelers in less than two months. It seems promising, but it doesn’t mean the risks associated with air travel are gone.

If you’re hoping to jet somewhere for summer vacation, there will be much different safety protocols in place than there were last summer.

A sign encourages social distancing at a nearly-empty O'Hare International Airport.
A sign encourages social distancing at a nearly-empty O'Hare International Airport. (2020 Getty Images)

Here are some changes from TSA worth noting:

  • Travelers will keep possession of their boarding pass, instead of handing it to an agent.
  • Food must be placed separately from other items when going through the X-ray screening.
  • TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. It will be screened separately.
  • Passengers are encouraged to wear facial protection, and all TSA agents at security will be wearing facial coverings. Agents also will wear gloves.
  • Passengers will be encouraged to practice social distancing while waiting to go through security. TSA agents will do the same.
  • There will be reduced security lane usage because of the reduction in passenger volume.
  • Some TSA officers optionally will wear eye protection and clear plastic face shields at some locations.
  • TSA officers will continue the practice of changing gloves after each pat-down.
  • Plastic shielding has been installed at many travel document checking podiums, divest, bag search and drop-off locations.
  • There will be routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in the screening checkpoint area.

Are you planning to travel again in the near future? Do you feel safe enough to do so? Tell us how you feel about air travel amid the coronavirus pandemic in the comment section below.


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