Concern over the spread of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has caused airline travel numbers within the United States to drop significantly.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, its checkpoints were passed by just 1.4 million people on Tuesday and 1.5 million the following day. In comparison, 2.2 million had gone through those checkpoints on a daily basis just a few weeks ago, 2021’s highest figures.
The numbers earlier this week were also the lowest seen since May. They had been steadily increasing from then until early August. The precipitous drop that followed was in stark contrast to what many had believed would happen throughout August: a continued increase in those figures.
One of the reasons for this drop was, according to a recent Cars.com survey, more than 20% of people who had planned to fly to their destinations this summer instead canceling those flights and driving, presumably to significantly reduce the number of interactions that they would have with others en route.
It is believed that this decrease in flying figures is also partially due to business travel decreasing in addition to tourist travel doing so as companies start returning to online meetings versus in-person ones.
The delta variant has not only increased caseloads, but it has also caused vaccination rates to increase significantly in the U.S. This is particularly true for states that had low rates prior to this summer. The ones with the largest percentage increases in vaccination rates between June 6 and Aug. 21 include Arkansas (12), Louisiana (12), Alabama (12), Florida (12), Nevada (11), Mississippi (11) and Texas (11).
Meanwhile, the states with the largest percentage increases in weekly cases between June 6 to Aug. 15 include South Carolina (2,858), Mississippi (2,611), South Dakota (1,789), Georgia (1,780) and Alaska (1,754).
It should also be noted that those who are flying but become “unruly” as a result of their adverse reactions to mask mandates are facing significant sanctions from the FAA. So far this year through the middle of August, the organization has initiated 682 investigations, which is four times the corresponding figure in 2019.