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TSA checkpoint travel numbers for 2020 and 2019

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Abstinence from flying was short-lived in 2020.

In March, the number of flyers dropped swiftly.

It was lowest from April 1, 2020 until April 30, 2020 (roughly).

Then people started to fly more again.

And more.

(See the first chart below.)

People are flying during a time when cases and deaths are at their highest in our country.

Thanksgiving travel is nearing 45% of what it was this time, last year.

The week before Thanksgiving (starting Nov 18th), travel was 34% of what it was last year.

As of Sunday (Nov 22nd), travel was 45% of what it was last year.

(See the second chart below.)

People flying take the risk of moving the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 around our country and into our communities.

I'm not casting judgment. It's just how the virus spread globally.

(Though we do know more now than we did before about face masks and social distancing to contain spread.)

TSA checkpoint travel numbers for 2020 and 2019

Interactive data visualization will load below.

Edit: Best viewed on a desktop computer.

How to interpret chart #2

The y-axis represents a crude measure of how current travel during the pandemic compares to 'normal' travel in 2019. This is a crude measure because I'm using 2019 data to represent 'normal' volume of travel.

Percentage of 2019 travel = (# of travelers on a date in 2020) divided by (number of travelers on the same date in 2019).

Example: On November 22nd, 2020, the "Percentage of 2019 travel" is 0.45 or 45%. This means that 45% of the expected travelers for this time of year passed through TSA checkpoints on Nov 22nd.

If you must fly, keeping yourself safe is key

Do everything you can to keep yourself safe. If you do that, there's a good chance you'll protect others and limit the spread.

Wear a face mask (not a handkerchief. not a neck gaiter). Add a filter - it might help.

Physically distance.

Minimize the amount of time your mask is off. And for goodness' sake, pull your mask over your nose.

Refer to CDC guidance.


I'm not a medical professional nor an epidemiologist. I previously worked as a CDC fellow through the Public Health Associate Program and took graduate-level public health courses.

I design enterprise data tools for a living.

I care about design thinking for social change & public health.

I share this info because it is important that you know a bit about the person writing the content you're consuming.

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Stay safe and celebrate at home.


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