Daily airline passengers before and during the pandemic in the United States 2019 vs 2020

Daily airline passengers in the United States 2019 vs 2020

This week we take a look at the number of daily airline passengers in the United States. 

Air travel was one of the first sectors to get severely hit by the pandemic. The White House announced on March 11th that by March 13th, airline travel from the European Union would be suspended. By then, Italy was already into a countrywide lockdown, and in the days to follow, all of Europe, with the exception of Sweden, went into strict mandatory home confinement. 

As for the United States, starting with California on March 19, and through the end of March and the first days of April, nearly all states had imposed mandatory lockdown. 

In the span of just over one month, from March 8th to April 14th, the number of daily airline passengers had dropped an unprecedented 95%, from 2,119,867 to 87,534. In the entire week starting on April 13th, just 684,590 passengers passed through the TSA checks. In 2019 the same number of passengers would pass every 6 hours. 

As for the present, the situation seems to be stabilizing at a 65% decrease compared to last year, and with the second wave of the pandemic now hitting most of Europe, the future of air travel doesn't seem any brighter. 

If you are planning on traveling with an airplane, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted a number of steps on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 during your trip:
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public settings.
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. 
  • Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. 
  • However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.
  • Also consider how you get to and from the airport, as public transportation and ridesharing can increase your chances of being exposed to the virus.

Here's a Weekly Airline Passengers graph I also made. Which do you like better?

Weekly airline passengers before and during the pandemic


  1. Can you compare to the drop that happened with September 11

    1. Hello there! According to this study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7112671/

      September 11 resulted in both a negative transitory shock of over 30% and an ongoing (as of 2003) negative demand shock amounting to roughly 7.4% of pre-September 11 demand.

    2. Here's also a helpful graph from the bureau of transportation statistics


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