(NewsNation Now) — The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1.85 million passengers on Sunday at U.S. airports, the highest number since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic slashed travel demand.
The U.S. air industry has been setting a number of new post March 2020 highs in recent days, but Sunday’s tally is 100,000 travelers higher than Thursday’s 1.74 million, which had been the best in 14 months. Still Sunday’s demand was about 70% of pre-pandemic air travel on the equivalent day in May 2019.
“More people are becoming more comfortable with flying – coming out from home now so I feel like they should have been or should have at least been prepared for them,” said passenger Dwayna Dixon.
This morning at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International airport, passengers were met with long lines, crowded checkpoints and not enough parking.
“They furloughed so many people, so many people lost their jobs, which I get it, you know, they had to let some people go. And I’m like I just said I don’t think that they even knew it was gonna be this bad,” said Director of Star and Skye Travel agency Nita Cooper.
She tells all her clients to pack their patience. There’s a national labor shortage and airports are scrambling for employees.
“Understand that you are still traveling during a pandemic and I think that’s what people are forgetting, they think that it’s over, we’re not out of it yet,” said Cooper.
Airlines say they’re adding more flights daily anticipating high summer travel demands as more Americans get vaccinated.
This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled new mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people last week, another step towards returning to pre-pandemic life.
The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
Just two weeks ago, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks indoors in all settings and outdoors in large crowds.
About 130 million people, or 37% of the U.S. population, have been fully inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc/ BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson, according to CDC data. 47.3% of the U.S. population, or 157.1 million adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.