As the summer holiday travel season is in full swing, U.S. airports are getting quite busy these days. In June, daily passenger throughput even exceeded 2019 levels, which happened only twice before since the pandemic began - in January and February of this year. With an average of 2.56 million passengers per day passing through TSA checkpoints, June was also the busiest month at U.S. airports since July 2019. Looking at all of 2023 so far, passenger throughput has been virtually identical to 2019 levels.
Following an abysmal 2020, flight traffic picked up noticeably in the second quarter of 2021, as the vaccine rollout proceeded rapidly. According to data from the Transport Security Administration, passenger throughput at U.S. airports started climbing steadily, with TSA safety checks exceeding two million in a single day for the first time since the pandemic hit on June 11, 2021. Throughout the busy summer season, the daily average hovered around the two million mark, trailing 2019 passenger numbers by roughly 500,000 a day on average. By the end of 2021, the gap had narrowed to 350,000-400,000 before gradually climbing closer to pre-pandemic levels throughout 2022.
Prior to the pandemic, daily passenger volumes of 2+ million were the norm rather than the exception. At the onset of the pandemic, daily passenger throughput fell as low as 100,000 in April 2020, before slowly climbing back to its current level. Throughout 2021, the TSA performed an average of 1.59 million safety checks per day, compared to 880,000 in 2020 and 2.31 million in 2019. In 2022, daily passenger troughput climbed to 2.08 million. Through July 12, average daily passenger traffic stands at 2.28 million for this year, compared to 2.29 million for the same period of 2019.