Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

U.S. Airline Passenger Numbers Exceeded 2019 This Weekend

4 weeks ago

The U.S. air travel has finally recovered, at least for one holiday weekend.

Over the Labor Day holiday long weekend, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened nearly 11.1 million people, or 3 percent more over the corresponding five day period in 2019, according to data released Tuesday. In fact, the TSA screened more people on four of the five days from September 1-5, marking the first sustained period of checkpoint throughput above pre-pandemic levels.

The TSA data does not necessarily mean 3 percent more people flew over the long weekend; the agency’s data also counts airport staff and some crews. But surpassing pre-pandemic screening levels is an important threshold in the broader travel industry recovery.

seattle airport usa
A TSA checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

But while travelers are back, U.S. airlines are not. The departure of many senior staff during the crisis and subsequent hiring sprees have resulted in less experienced airline workforces that, while headline staffing numbers may be comparable to three years ago, are less productive than the employees they replaced and unable to handle the same number of passengers and flights. This trend, as well as weather and air traffic control constraints, forced a spike in flight delays and cancellations early in the summer. Airlines remain cautious about over extending their resources and are keeping schedules in check despite strong travel demand; U.S. domestic seat capacity remains about 4 percent below 2019 in September, according to Diio by Cirium.

But the optimism is palpable in the airline industry. With demand broadly outstripping supply, fares are up, which is good for airlines’ bottom lines. And the recent decline in oil prices after a dramatic run up earlier this year means the industry can keep more of those record revenues in the bank.

TSA Screening Volume 2019-2022

Date2022202120202019
9/5/20222,398,8572,025,556935,3082,292,985
9/4/20221,979,9061,630,786689,6302,370,003
9/3/20221,903,7911,545,955664,6401,755,502
9/2/20222,479,3292,129,999968,6732,198,828
9/1/20222,312,4861,896,846877,6982,109,858
8/31/20221,989,1191,465,197578,1311,889,044
8/30/20221,758,3441,345,064516,0682,037,750

Source: Transportation Security Administration

Tags: tsa

Airlines

TSA Sees Pre-Pandemic Numbers With 2.5 Million People Screened

3 months ago

The number of people passing through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints across the U.S. returned to pre-Coivd levels on the Friday before July Fourth.

“We are back to pre-pandemic checkpoint volume,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said on Twitter Saturday. Her comment came after the agency screened 2.49 million people at U.S. airports on Friday, July 1.

BWI TSA Security
(Edward Russell/Skift)

The number of people screened is slightly below the 2.7 million forecast by Hopper in June. The travel company anticipates 12.9 million people will fly in the U.S. over the five-day July Fourth holiday weekend, from June 30 to July 4.

Most U.S. flights operated as scheduled, if not a little late, on July 1 with FlightAware reporting just 587 cancellations, or a fraction of the total number of flights. That is better than many feared after airlines cancelled thousands of flights in June leading to finger pointing at themselves, and airport and air traffic control staffing.

Tags: tsa

Airlines

New U.S. Tourism Strategy Calls for More Touchless Tech

4 months ago

From facial biometrics at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints to visas that don’t require boarding foils, the new U.S. Department of Commerce strategy to boost international arrivals calls for tech improvements to better verify identities and expedite the travel process.

Passport kiosks. Department of Homeland Security. Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/dhsgov/16460568027/in/photostream/

Among the recommended tech-oriented actions citied in the strategy are:

  • The Department of Homeland Security should rework its systems to handle digital travel credentials, including touchless tech like facial recognition.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection should deploy facial comparison tech to verify visitor identities.
  • Facial recognition tech should be implemented at TSA security lanes and airline boarding gates.
  • Digital visa processing using foil-less visas for verifying traveler identities should be pursued.
  • The State Department “should explore the direct capture of photographs for passports and visas to standardize image quality for improved comparison against travel documents, reduce the probability of false rejections, and combat fraud,” the Commerce Department stated.

Airlines

Memorial Day Air Travelers Top 13 Million, Still Shy of 2019

4 months ago

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 13.4 million people over the five-day Memorial Day holiday weekend travel period. That is the highest number since 2019, when TSA screened 14.4 million people over the same period.

But while travel demand came back strong as expected, it was not an easy weekend to fly. U.S. airlines cancelled more than 7,000 flights over the five-day period, according to data from Cowen & Co. and FlightAware. Delta Air Lines, which warned on May 26 that it would “thin” schedules over the holiday weekend, cancelled more than 700 flights.

“We expect a busy summer, and are concerned about the industry’s ability to handle the demand,” Cowen analyst Helane Becker wrote Tuesday. “Delta and JetBlue announced flight cancelations for July and into August as they try to get a handle on staffing. We also expect ticket prices to be high through the summer as demand exceeds supply. The lack of crew members means smaller cities will continue to lose service and pricing should be strong through at least Labor Day.”

Airlines

Biden Nominates TSA Chief David Pekoske for Another Term

5 months ago

U.S. President Joe Biden is nominating David Pekoske to serve another term as head of the Transportation Security Administration.

He leads a workforce of 60,000 employees and is responsible for security operations at 440 airports across the country.

Pekoske was first nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2017.

The TSA was created by Congress in November 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks. It is responsible for security operations at 430 U.S. airports. According to reports, the White House plans to boost the number of TSA officers by 2,540 as it forecasts a faster return to pre-Covid U.S. air travel levels.

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