TSA Numbers Show Just How Few Americans Are Traveling

In recent years, air travel numbers have reached new heights. This includes airlines flying to more places, increasing fleet sizes, and posting record passenger numbers. However, since March 17th, the United States has seen an incredible reduction in the number of passengers. So much so that, on March 26th, the TSA screened only 203,858 passengers– the fewest number of passengers in a single day in the last 10 years.

Airport security
The TSA screened only 203,858 passengers on March 26th. Photo: Getty Images

TSA sets record low passenger numbers

On March 26th, the TSA recorded that it screened only 203,858 passengers. On the same day a year ago, the TSA screened 2,487,162 passengers. That is a decline of over 90%. Furthermore, it represents the fewest number of passengers that the TSA has screened in the last ten years according to TSA Public Affairs spokesperson, Lisa Farbstein.

Over the last few days, the TSA has seen a continuous drop in the number of passengers. On March 6th, the TSA screened 2,203,716 passengers. Just ten days later, on March 16th, that number was down at 1,258,772. On March 20th, the number reached 593,167. Here is a visualization of the dropping numbers:

TSA Screened passengers
The TSA has seen a downward trend in the number of screened passengers. Graph: Simple Flying/Data: TSA

Compared to the same dates from 2019, the numbers are even more staggering:

2019 vs 2020
The TSA has seen a downward trend in the number of screened passengers. Graph: Simple Flying/Data: TSA

The top line is the number of passengers from 2019, the bottom is data from 2020. Even amidst some of the busiest travel days due to spring vacations, more Americans appear to have decided to stay home.

Huge reduction in domestic capacity

This number is not terribly surprising. Airlines around the United States are notching fewer and fewer passengers onboard aircraft. In fact, domestically, one of the largest airlines in the US, American Airlines, is cutting domestic capacity by about 80% in May. Delta, United, Hawaiian, Alaska and Southwest are also significantly cutting domestic capacity.

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines is significantly cutting flight schedules. Photo: Getty Images

A large portion of this decrease in passengers is also coming from major reductions in international travel. International capacity on major airlines is at one of its lowest points in recent memory. The combination of plunging international and domestic demand is leading more and more carriers around the world to park aircraft.

Delta Air Lines
Parked aircraft at Victorville. Photo: Getty Images

As more localities implement stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, the number of travelers will likely drop further. While airlines will likely continue to keep flying key routes to preserve important cargo and economic links, nonessential travel is something that many agencies are discouraging right now. And, with tourist attractions closed, there isn’t much of an incentive to visit some leisure destinations.

Airlines will likely preserve key cargo links. Photo: Delta Air Lines


The decline in passenger numbers is staggering and just goes to show the incredible decline in travel demand across the United States. Moreover, this decline goes hand-in-hand with airlines cutting domestic and international capacity to adjust to this lower travel demand.

What do you make of these numbers? Do you think these numbers will continue to decline? Let us know in the comments!