The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said on Wednesday it expects to screen about 20 million air passengers during the busy Thanksgiving travel period, starting on Friday through November 28, and that passenger volumes “may be very close to pre-pandemic levels this holiday".
Delta Air Lines is forecasting up to 5.6 million passengers from Friday through November 30, about 300 per cent more than the 2.2 million passengers reported in the same period of 2020 but still below the 6.3 million passengers registered during the same period in 2019.
United Airlines said it expects more than 4.5 million passengers during the Thanksgiving travel period — about 88 per cent of 2019 volume.
The airline said it was adding about 700 domestic flights for Thanksgiving week and would fly 87 per cent of its 2019 domestic schedule in November.
Last Friday, three dozen Democratic members of the US Congress urged President Joe Biden to require domestic airline passengers to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative test result.
The Biden administration las week lifted travel restrictions for fully vaccinated air travellers from 33 countries including China, South Africa, Brazil and much of Europe.
The lift ended 20 months of restrictions that had separated families and strained diplomatic ties.
The US will require air passengers to be fully vaccinated and tested within three days of international travel. Airlines will be required to put in place a contact-tracing system.
Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said that in the week ending November 9, US airline passenger volumes were 13 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, with domestic air travel down 11 per cent and international down 30 per cent.
Travel group AAA forecasts 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13 per cent from 2020, with most travelling by car.
The US also last week lifted restrictions on fully vaccinated tourists travelling across land borders from Mexico and Canada.