US Holiday travel rush begins: TSA screened more than 1 million passengers on Friday, Dec. 18

Photo: Sky News

The holiday travel rush has begun at airports across the nation despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice to stay home this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 1,066,747 travelers on Friday, the traditional start of the holiday travel season as vacations from school and work begin.

That’s 1.5 million fewer passengers than a year ago, a 59% plunge, but is only the sixth time passenger counts topped 1 million since travel demand plummeted in mid-March. The low point came on April 14, with just 87,534 passengers screened.

The CDC also recommended against Thanksgiving travel but airports were filled with holiday travelers if smaller crowds than a typical year. Passenger counts topped 1 million four times during the Thanksgiving rush, hitting a pandemic high of 1,176,091 on November 29, the Sunday after the holiday, according to the TSA.

Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY

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