While the numbers are still far below 2019's passenger traffic, it was the first time anything near these levels has been recorded since the pandemic began.

By Alison Fox
March 23, 2021
Advertisement

More than 1.5 million travelers passed through U.S. airports on Sunday, marking the most passengers to fly in a day in more than a year.

On Sunday, 1.54 million travelers went through security, according to the Transportation Security Administration, the most passengers since March 13, 2020. In fact, Sunday was just one of 12 consecutive days in which the agency has screened more than 1 million travelers.

While the numbers are still far below 2019's passenger traffic, it was the first time anything near these levels has been recorded since the pandemic began.

The surge of passenger traffic comes as the vaccination rollout continues and Spring Break kicks off, despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to hold off on the typical vacation time. Unruly crowds in Miami Beach, for example, forced officials to enact an 8 p.m. curfew and resulted in dozens of arrests.

TSA line at O'Hare Airport
Travelers arrive for flights at O'Hare International Airport.
| Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

While some have turned to creative ways to discourage travel — like a California university that offered to pay students to skip Spring Break — not all Americans aren't listening, with attractions like Disney World selling out early.

Airline executives told The Associated Press there has been an increase in bookings over the last few weeks, and CNBC reported airline shares soared last week, rising higher than they have in over a year.

That has been coupled with many cities, like New York and Los Angeles, easing COVID-19 restrictions as well as some states starting to waive quarantine or testing protocols for vaccinated travelers.

Officials have pointed to the vaccines as a key in the eventual return to normalcy (and travel), but it doesn't mean the need for learned behaviors like mask wearing and social distancing are going away anytime soon.

If people do choose to travel, the CDC recommends they get tested before their trip and then again three to five days after they return home, self-quarantining for a week.

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.