Thanksgiving Eve air travel below 2019 levels, with 2.3M screened: TSA

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The Transportation Security Commission screened a total of 2.3 million passengers on Wednesday as some travelers began heading out to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones. 

The figure represents 88% versus pre-pandemic levels for volume screened for the same day in 2019. The TSA screened 2.6 million passengers on the same day in 2019 and 1.1 million passengers on the same day in 2020.

The latest figures bring the total number of passengers screened since Monday to over 6.6 million, compared to just over 2.9 million in 2020 and over 7.3 million in 2019 during the same three-day period. 


The TSA said earlier this month that it expects to handle an estimated 20 million travelers passing through U.S. airports during the Thanksgiving holiday, which runs from Friday through Sunday, Nov. 28. 

Although travel volume isn't expected to notch pre-pandemic levels, the agency says it will be "notably higher" than what has been seen in recent weeks due to improving vaccination rates and people regaining confidence in travel.

Passengers wait in line inside the terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, Nov. 24, 2021.  (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz / Reuters Photos)

Typically, the busiest days during the Thanksgiving travel period are the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterward. The highest volume in TSA history was on the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2019, when nearly 2.9 million individuals were screened at U.S. airport security checkpoints, according to the agency. 


AAA is predicting a total of 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, including 48.3 million people by car, 4.2 million by air and 1 million by other modes of transportation, such as a bus, train or cruise. The forecast marks a 13% increase compared to 2020, the highest single-year increase since 2005, but a 5% decrease compared to 2019 levels.

Passengers arrive at the terminal of the Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, Nov. 24, 2021.  (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz / Reuters Photos)

As of Thursday morning, approximately 2,903 flights have been delayed so far, including 262 heading within, into or out of the United States, according to FlightAware. Meanwhile, 1,043 flights have been cancelled so far, including 44 heading within, into, or out of the United States.

FOX Business' Daniella Genovese contributed to this report

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