Travel in the U.S. showed signs of returning to normal levels this Memorial Day weekend, even though celebrations were muted by the pandemic.
Airline traffic, which all but ground to a halt during the height of the pandemic and also is easily measured compared to other modes of transportation, was up 384 percent on Sunday (May 30) compared with the traffic on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend 2020, according to data provided by the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Memorial Day Sunday 2021 air traveler counts remained 34 percent below 2019’s pre-pandemic air traveler figure for the comparable Sunday.
Air travelers on Friday (May 28) and Saturday (May 29) of this year’s Memorial Day weekend were up 500 percent and 674 percent, respectively, compared with the same days launching Memorial Day weekend 2020, the TSA data showed. This year’s Saturday and Sunday traveler counts showed declines of 29 percent and 20 percent, respectively, compared with the same 2019 days.
The figures reported by the agency were 1,959,593 travelers on Friday versus 253,190 on the comparable Memorial Day weekend Friday in 2020 and 2,512,237 for Memorial Day weekend Friday 2019.
AAA’s forecast for Memorial Day weekend 2021 was that 37 million Americans would travel more than 50 miles from home, an increase of 60 percent over the organization’s estimate that 23 million people traveled 50 miles or more from home over Memorial Day weekend 2020.
AAA concluded that over Memorial Day weekend 2019, roughly 43 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles from home, putting this year’s decline over 2019 at 13 percent compared with pre-pandemic figures.
“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” AAA Senior Vice President of Travel Paula Twidale said in a prepared statement. “This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions.”
Reuters reported that this weekend’s partial resumption of Memorial Day travel comes amid a somber climate in Washington D.C., where President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris participated in ceremonies honoring fallen soldiers and the annual parade on the National Mall was replaced with a video-recorded version.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) daily tracker of COVID-19 fallout stated that 62.6 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccination injection and 591,265 Americans have died from the disease. Some 33 million cases have been reported in the United States, according to the agency.