Americans took to the skies ahead of Christmas in greater numbers than in 2020, though behind pre-pandemic volumes.
On Christmas Eve, 1.7 million people were screened at airport checkpoints, according to TSA figures. The day before 2.2 million were.
That’s a 166 percent increase over the same two days in 2020, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans not to fly, on account of that winter’s COVID-19 surge.
This year, officials have only asked that Americans be “prudent” with their travel plans in the face of the Omicron variant.
The two-day total is 76 percent of air travel volume for those days in 2019, the numbers show.
The new variant’s late-December surge has coincided with hundreds of flight cancellations, with United Airlines blaming staffing shortages stemming from the spike. “The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” a rep for the carrier said.