More than 10 million Americans traveled through airports over the past 10 days, including 1.28 million on Sunday in the busiest single day for flying since the pandemic's full effects hit in mid-March, according to federal data.
The Transportation Security Administration reported 10,219,362 travelers passed through its airport checkpoints across the country between Dec. 18 and Dec. 27, bookending the Christmas holiday, compared to 24,206,190 over the same period in 2019.
Year-over-year changes varied significantly by day: on Christmas itself, only about 24% as many passengers traveled through airports as last year, while on Dec. 23, security checkpoints counted more than 61% of 2019 crowds.
The 1,284,599 passengers counted on Sunday were the most of any day in the past nine months since COVID-19 prompted widespread business closures and changes in public behavior, surpassing travel around Thanksgiving that likely led to significant upticks in transmission.
Public health experts and elected officials warned for weeks that holiday travel could further exacerbate the COVID-19 surge underway. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker tied travel for Thanksgiving -- around which TSA numbers were slightly lower than Christmas — to a 96% increase in the number of new cases recorded each day.