TSA seeing record number of travelers since pandemic

Posted at 2:44 AM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 05:56:22-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Whether it's because of the Spring Break holiday or the increasing number of fully vaccinated Americans, more people are feeling confident enough to travel.

"We're seeing the busiest period since the pandemic struck," said Richmond International Airport (RIC) spokesperson, Troy Bell.

On Sunday, the TSA screened a record 1.5 million people in airports across the country, making it the busiest travel day in more than a year for airlines.

"More people are heading out to the airways," Bell said. "Some of its seasonal but there's no doubt in the middle of a pandemic, it's got a lot to do with a lot of vaccinations going into people's arms."

In Virginia, 2.3 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, that's 28% of the state's population. The number of vaccinated Virginians is expected to rise significantly in April.

At Richmond International Airport, the terminals were quiet on Monday, but airport officials are bracing for another uptick in travelers this holiday weekend, as many schools let out for spring break.

Bell said strict policies remain in place to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

"I saw people doing the right thing in terms of masks, in terms of social distancing," Bell said.

While temperature checks are not required at RIC before travelers' board flights, strict mask mandates remain in place. Like many airports across the country, filtration systems have also been upgraded at RIC along with stringent cleaning policies.

It's important to check with government policies in your destination city or country, to find out if mitigation strategies are in place. Some cities require temperature checks, while others require a recent PCR COVID-19 test that must be submitted to government officials before travel.

While increased travel numbers are promising for the industry, travel experts say the number of airline passengers is still half of what it was before the pandemic.

"If we had 100,000 passengers in February, we'll see more than 150,000 or so in March," Bell said. "But prior to that, if we'd gone back to say 2019 before the pandemic, if we reported numbers somewhere between 300,000 and 350,000, no one would have been shocked."