For 11 days in a row, more than 1 million people have flown from US airports, despite the CDC urging people not to travel

Airport pandemic covid travel Illinois
Travelers arrive for flights at O’Hare international Airport on March 16, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Americans are returning to the skies as airlines grow increasingly optimistic about the future of travel.
  • The TSA screened more than 1.53 million passengers on Sunday, the most in more than a year.
  • The CDC is still urging people to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The number of flyers departing from US airports has topped 1 million for 11 days in a row – even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to avoid traveling.

The US Transport Security Administration (TSA) said Monday it has screened more than 1 million passengers at US airports every day since March 11. It screened around 14.5 million passengers over the 11-day period, it said.

Though travel is allowed, current CDC guidance says people should “delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, even if you are vaccinated.”

Read more: 
3 reasons to be optimistic about this summer, according to 18 doctors and scientists

For the first time during the pandemic, air travel is higher than it was at the same time a year ago.

US air travel peaked on Sunday, when the TSA screened more than 1.53 million passengers at US airports – the most in more than a year. This is nearly triple the 548,132 people it screened on the same day in 2020.

The TSA screened nearly 1.37 million passengers on Saturday and close to 1.47 million passengers on Friday – both more than double the number it screened on the same day in 2020.

CNN first reported the news.

CDC travel guidance: masks, tests, and vaccines

If people have to travel, the CDC urges them to get tested both before and after flying, and quarantine at their destination, even if they test negative. Passengers must wear face masks on all flights, following an executive order from Biden, with few exemptions, and the CDC says they should get a COVID-19 vaccine, if possible.

All international arrivals are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the US.

Some countries are mulling vaccine passports to facilitate international travel. The European Commission proposed a vaccine passport for EU citizens Wednesday, which would vouch for vaccination, COVID-19 test results, and whether the person has recovered from COVID-19. Similar passports are in the works in China and the UAE.

Public-health experts told Insider they felt unusually optimistic about this summer and the pandemic.

In an opinion piece, Insider reporters Andrea Michelson and Hilary Brueck said authorities should stop telling people not to travel and instead teach them how to do it safely.

Fares hit record lows and passenger confidence grows

Airfares are hitting record lows as airlines try to lure flyers back.

Passengers are also growing increasingly confident about flying as the vaccine rollout ramps up across the US. President Joe Bidens has eyed May 1 as the day all US adults will become eligible for the shot.

Airlines have been preparing for passengers to return to the skies. JetBlue Airways reportedly asked flight attendants who took a leave of absence to come back early for a “busy summer season,” and also lifted COVID-19 safety measures so it could fit more passengers on each flight. It stopped blocking middle seats in October, and opened flights to be filled to capacity in January.

But others are keeping restrictions: Delta, for example, is continuing to block middle seats through April.

“The move is undoubtedly costing the country’s second-largest airline millions in lost revenue over spring break but helps solidify Delta’s image as a safety-minded airline long after the pandemic ends, which may help it attract more travelers in the long run,” Insider’s Thomas Pallini reported.