The number of Americans traveling by airplane continues to spike, government data shows.
The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1.28 million people on Thursday, making it the third busiest day at American airports since the pandemic cratered air travel nearly a year ago.
Thursday saw only 43,000 people fewer screenings than the pandemic-era record, set in early January as travelers returned from holiday plans and just 300 people short of taking the second-ranked spot set Dec. 27. It was busier than most of the travel days around the Christmas holiday and all of the days around Thanksgiving.
The industry says passenger volumes are still depressed – 57% below pre-pandemic levels – but that it is prepared for a wave of travelers headed out for spring break or to visit family, many of whom are freshly vaccinated.
“We want people to get on the airplanes. We do think it is safe or we wouldn’t be flying them,” Nick Calio of the industry group Airlines for America told CNN in a Thursday interview. “You can tell people are encouraged – lately there’s this mood and people think we’re coming through.”
But the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned against travel even for vaccinated people in recently-released guidelines, and said it would wait to loosen those restrictions until more Americans receive the coronavirus shots.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on CNN Thursday night that she is worried about Covid-19 spikes linked to travel.
“We are being very cautious right now with travel,” she said.