June 7 was a record setting day for air travel in the U.S. during the global coronavirus pandemic.

By Stacey Leasca
June 08, 2020
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In March, the coronavirus pandemic brought global travel to a near standstill. Borders closed, destinations shuttered their doors, cruise ships sat idle, and airplanes were grounded. Just how bad did it get? According to FlightRadar 24, April saw a 73.7% reduction in commercial flights compared to the same time period in 2019. But, now, it appears travel and flying may be on the rebound once again.

Credit: Ying Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Since March 1, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been publishing data on the number of passengers that go through airports around the nation. For context, the TSA has a second column where they compare the 2020 numbers to the same time period one year ago. And yes, the numbers look very bleak.

For example, on April 14, 2020 airports reached a low of 87,534 travelers compared to more than 2.2 million travelers on the same date in 2019. Since then, it’s been an up and down model, until June 7, 2020, when travel hit its coronavirus all-time high.

On June 7, the TSA says 441,255 travelers passed through airports, marking a nearly 100,000 person increase from the day before. Though it seems like a great sign for travel it’s still astonishing when you see that 2,669,860 people traveled on the same date in 2019.

But, as The Points Guy noted, the current number of travelers could be even higher as the TSA’s numbers only account for people screened at US airports and the numbers do not account for those arriving in the U.S. from other countries.

Another thing The Points Guy explained, is those preparing to fly shouldn’t expect flights to be empty just because the numbers appear to be so low. That’s because airlines have not only significantly reduced service, but some are also eliminating middle seats, meaning there are fewer fights and fewer seats per flight.

As aviation expert Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group previously told Travel + Leisure, these numbers aren’t too surprising and airline travel will continue to rebound back up to whatever our new normal will be.

“You can expect airlines to begin with flights out of their most important hubs and cities where public health conditions are best and demand is strongest,” he said. “But I would encourage people to wait until we get closer to knowing when the U.S. might reenter more normal conditions before starting to book trips.”