Memorial Day Record: TSA Screens Highest-Ever Number of Airline Passengers in a Single Day

Summer travel has kicked off with a bang over Memorial weekend, with the TSA declaring a record-high number of passengers screened across US airlines.

Record-Breaking Flight Passengers

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Inflation may be nibbling at everyone’s pockets, but it didn’t stop millions of Americans from buying plane tickets last week, as Memorial Day saw a record-breaking number of passengers take to the skies.

Almost 3 Million Screened

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2.95 million people were screened at US airports last Friday, according to the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the day before Memorial weekend.

Highest in a Day

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The TSA announced the staggering number on Saturday. According to the agency, it was the highest number of US airline travelers ever screened in a single day.

Celebrations and Recommendations from the TSA

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“Officers have set a new record for most travelers screened in a single day!” the agency shared via X. “We recommend arriving early.”

Thanksgiving Last Year

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Friday passenger numbers broke the previous record, set in November. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, as travelers clamored to return home after the short holiday break.

From Thursday Onward

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Last Thursday, the day before the new record was set, also saw staggering numbers of airline passengers. Just under 2.9 million travelers were screened, making it the third busiest day for travelers in TSA history.

10 Million Predicted

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The TSA confirmed prior to the weekend that they expected over 10 million travelers throughout the Memorial Day weekend period, according to spokesperson Regina Boateng.

TSA Predictions

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“During the four-day Memorial Day weekend in 2019, approximately 9.5 million passengers were screened; In 2023, that number rose just above 9.8 million,” Boateng told reporters. “This year, we expect the four-day figure to rise well above 10 million.”

No Sign of Stopping

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In the last two years, travel numbers have been soaring past pre-pandemic levels, with no sign of stopping yet. Earlier this month Airlines of America, a trade association and lobbying group representing the nation’s major airlines, also predicted record-high travel rates this summer. 

Airlines Gearing Up for Summer

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The association confirmed that major airlines were already gearing up to screen more than 26,000 flights a day throughout the summer season, a 5.6% increase from the same time last year.

Nearly 20 Million More in 2024

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Altogether they expect to see 271 million travelers flying between June 1 and August 31, up from the 255 million record set in the same period last year.

5 Out of 10 This Month

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This is looking like a realistic prediction, given that the TSA recorded five of its ten busiest days in the agency’s history since the beginning of May. 

“Busiest in the Agency’s History”

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The agency also confirmed it’s own predictions of a record-breaking summer.  “It’s difficult to compare holidays, as some fall on varying days of the week,” Boateng said. “However, TSA expects this summer to also be the busiest in the agency’s history.”

Mixed Feelings for Travelers

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While major airlines are no doubt pleased by the record-breaking air traffic, the travelers themselves may have more mixed feelings.

Flight Delays and Cancellations

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Due to overwhelming numbers of travelers and available flights, airlines also saw a range of difficulties last weekend. According to data from FlightAware, over 5,000 flight delays throughout the country, and 430 cancellations were recorded over two days.

Road Travelers Should Worry

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Airlines passengers are not the only domestic travelers who should prepare for some frustration this summer. The American Automobile Association also stepped in to predict that 43.8 million would take to the roads to travel more than 50 miles between Thursday and Monday.

Close to Record-Breaking

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This would signal a 4% surge in traffic over last year’s road numbers for the Memorial weekend and is only fractionally lower than the 2005 all-time record of 44 million vehicle travelers.

“90% Longer Than Normal”

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“Travel times are expected to be up to 90% longer than normal,” INRX transportation analyst Bob Pishue warned. 

Use Public Sources

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He urged road travelers to use public sources to find the best times to travel, saying “Travelers should stay up to date on traffic apps, 511 services, and local news stations to avoid sitting in traffic longer than necessary.”

Inflation Still High

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These staggering travel numbers come at a time when inflation is running high at 3.4%, and the cost of living is weighing on millions. Still, American holiday optimism is predicted to remain strong for the rest of the year. 

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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