U.S. Air Passenger Travel During Memorial Day Weekend Surpasses Pre-COVID Levels


Key Takeaways

  • U.S. Memorial Day weekend air travel exceeded pre-COVID levels, with almost 9.8 million passengers screened, signaling a strong start to summer travel.
  • Flight cancellations reduced significantly to 0.6%, down from 2.3% in 2022 and 1.4% in 2019, showcasing improved airline reliability.
  • The surge in air travel, surpassing pre-pandemic volumes, indicates a promising rebound for the aviation industry’s recovery.

Stanwood, WA–U.S. air passenger travel during the Memorial Day weekend surpassed pre-COVID levels from 2019, marking the start of a promising U.S. summer air travel season, according to data from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Improved Airline Reliability

According to a Reuters report, over the four-day holiday weekend, nearly 9.8 million passengers were screened or passed through security checks, approximately 300,000 more than during the same period in 2019, the TSA reported on Tuesday. This data illustrates significant improvements over the previous year’s performance, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airlines, and flight tracking websites noted.

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The report stated that the FAA highlighted that only 0.6% of flights during the holiday travel period were canceled, a marked reduction compared to 2.3% in 2022 and 1.4% in 2019. “Low levels of delays and cancellations over the holiday weekend are evidence that sector-wide collaboration to improve airline reliability is on the right track,” said, as per the report, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Twitter. “Much more work to come, and we will continue our actions to ensure passengers are supported.”

Record-Breaking Anticipated Summer

The report noted that on Friday alone, the TSA screened 2.74 million passengers, the highest number in a single day since November 2019. Overall, the weekend’s travel volume exceeded pre-COVID traffic levels. According to the FAA, Thursday witnessed the highest post-COVID daily traffic, with 54,684 flights.

Airlines, including American Airlines, reported minimal flight cancellations. To improve operations, especially in congested areas like New York’s airspace, airlines are increasingly operating larger planes while reducing the number of flights.

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The report noted that industry group Airlines for America anticipates a record-breaking summer, estimating that 256.8 million passengers will fly during the June-August quarter, up 1% from the 254.6 million passengers in the same period in 2019.

What We Think

The Memorial Day air travel surge, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, signifies a robust return to travel and an encouraging start to the summer season.

Reduced flight cancellations underscore enhanced airline reliability, reflecting sector-wide efforts. The record-breaking projections for summer air travel by Airlines for America further bolster confidence in the industry’s recovery.

As travel resumes, continued collaboration and operational enhancements will be pivotal in ensuring a smooth travel experience, supporting the industry’s trajectory towards pre-pandemic normalcy.

Learn more in the full Reuters report.


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