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Transportation Security Administration screened a record number of flight passengers Thursday since federal and state government issued travel restrictions in its efforts to contain the novel coronavirus.
TSA screened 154,080 people on March 30; that number was on a steady decline, reaching a low point of 87,534 passengers on April 14, after the State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory on March 19 urging Americans not to travel abroad under any circumstances. States also started implementing stay-at-home policies starting around mid-March.
That changed this week when TSA counted a total of 154,695 passengers on Thursday.
|DAL||DELTA AIR LINES INC.||25.65||+2.96||+13.05%|
|UAL||UNITED AIRLINES HLDG.||29.54||+4.14||+16.30%|
|AAL||AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.||11.14||+1.44||+14.85%|
|LUV||SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.||32.52||+3.65||+12.64%|
"Regarding the increase in people screened through TSA security checkpoints recently, TSA will let the numbers speak for themselves," TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers told FOX Business. "TSA has no particular insight as to why there has been an increase. Please note that these figures include ticketed travelers, some flight crew as well as airport workers who are required to be screened before reporting to work."
The number is still drastically low compared to the nearly 2.5 million passengers the Administration screened on the same day last year, but it does highlight a change in traveler behavior as states begin to ease coronavirus restrictions and the U.S. steps up testing.
As airlines struggle to get their businesses flying right once again in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown, several are taking safety measures the industry has never seen before.
American Airlines was the first carrier to announce it will offer face masks to its customers earlier this week. On Thursday the offer became mandatory with a mask-wearing policy for all who board its planes, starting on May 11.
American's decision came within hours of Jet Blue and Delta Air Lines which will institute the requirements May 4. Frontier Airlines also said on Thursday its face mask policy will begin May. 8. In addition, Delta is informing passengers that the masks should be worn at check-in counters, Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas and jet bridges
But the airlines are not stopping with masks. United is instituting a type of social distancing policy according to a memo obtained by FOX 8 in Cleveland. Frontier is asking passengers to fill out a health acknowledgment form before boarding aircraft.
All of these new policies are meant to promote customer and team member safety while adhering to guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.