US air travel rises to highest levels since pandemic hit

Across the U.S., air travel is recovering more quickly from the depths of the pandemic, and it is showing up in longer airport security lines and busier traffic on airline websites.

The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1.3 million people both Friday and Sunday, setting a new high since the coronavirus outbreak devastated travel a year ago. Baton Rouge’s airport has also seen a recent rise in traffic. The number of flights scheduled to pass through the airport in April is 80% of the figure for April 2019, The Advocate reported last week. Airlines believe the numbers are heading up, with more people booking flights for spring and summer. 

“Our last three weeks have been the best three weeks since the pandemic hit, and each week has been better than the one prior,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says. 

Travelers and the airlines still have far to go before again hitting the heights they saw in 2019.

While the number of people passing through airport checkpoints on Sunday finally eclipsed the number on the same day last year—a first for the pandemic era—it was still down 45.5% from the same day in 2019.

Parker says American’s bookings are now running just 20% below 2019 levels. A factor appears to be traveler confidence now that more people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19. About 70 million Americans, or 21%, have received at least one dose, and 37 million have completed their vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read the full story.