TSA agents wait for passengers at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport on March 28 soon after the pandemic disrupted air travel. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 19 (UPI) -- More than 1 million passengers were screened in a single day at U.S. airports for the first time since March, the Transportation Security Administration announced Monday.
Airline travel remains below pre-pandemic levels, but the the single-day passenger volume on Sunday is a "noteworthy development," the agency said in a statement.
More than 6.1 million passengers passed through checkpoints nationwide last week, which was the highest weekly volume for TSA since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the agency said.
Air travel is still far below previous levels, with U.S. airlines carrying 70% fewer scheduled passengers in August 2020 than in August 2019, according to the U.S Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Even as the agency implemented new "Real ID" requirements to fly on Oct. 1, TSA has also developed new pandemic health technology such as plastic screens, automatic ID readers that allow screeners to avoid touching passenger documents, and new carry-on bag scanners that let screeners peer inside bags without opening them. This allows customer lines to move faster, the TSA said.
Traditionally, close to 38 million people travel during the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, but those levels are expected to be down significantly, especially after recommendations against holiday travel from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Airlines worldwide have experienced significant losses since the pandemic began and most have made cutbacks to offset the lost revenue.
A round of furloughs and layoffs among U.S. air carriers began in October when furlough protections in $25 billion congressional CARES Act pandemic rescue legislation expired. Airlines and unions have continued to urge Congress to pass $25 billion in new airline rescue funding, which has been caught in a political battle between House Democrats and Senate Republicans.