Labor Day Holiday Weekend Travel Surpasses Pre-pandemic Levels for First Time, According to the TSA

The busiest travel day was Friday when the agency saw 2.48 million passengers.

Airline passengers line up at the American Airlines ticket counter at San Francisco International Airport

Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

More than 8 million people traveled through airports in the United States over the Labor Day weekend, surpassing pre-pandemic holiday weekend travel numbers for the first time.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 8.76 million travelers between Friday, Sept. 2, and Monday, Sept. 5. That was more than the 8.62 million passengers the TSA screened over the same holiday period in 2019, according to the agency, marking the first time the number had exceeded pre-COVID-19 levels.

The busiest travel day was Friday when the agency saw 2.48 million passengers.

Wait times at security checkpoints were relatively smooth as well, the agency noted, especially for travelers with TSA PreCheck, 94.9% of which waited less than five minutes.

“TSA’s highly trained and dedicated workforce facilitated secure travel for millions of passengers during the busy summer travel season with very little disruptions at the checkpoint,” TSA Acting Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “We were also able to continue the deployment of new technologies that facilitate stronger identity verification procedures and enhanced security screening for carry-on bags.”

Travelers may have taken to the skies in record numbers over the Labor Day holiday weekend, but it didn’t quite reach the level of travelers who flew over the July 4 holiday weekend. During that period, the TSA screened more than 11.2 million travelers, including more than 2.49 million travelers in a single day (which remains the highest number of passengers screened since Feb. 11, 2020).

Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, about 11.2 million travelers also passed through U.S. airports, but still the numbers didn’t come close to surpassing the 12.3 million travelers who flew during the same time period in 2019.

The busy Labor Day travel numbers come as the Department of Homeland Security has encouraged travelers who mostly fly domestic to skip applying for Global Entry and opt for TSA PreCheck instead amid long application wait times.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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