Nearly 1.3 Million More People Are Flying Now Compared to This Time Last Year

Travel continues to pick up speed despite risks posed by the Delta variant.


Editor's Note:The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to fluctuate rapidly and impact communities all over the world. If you’re venturing out, triple-check the opening status, entry requirements, and safety protocols for both your destination and home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

In August 2020, with most Americans hunkered down, trips were canceled, and plans were put on hold indefinitely. If it wasn’t in your backyard or your living room, odds are you weren’t going. But a year and a major vaccine rollout later, we’ve been able to go a bit further than the confines of our COVID-19 bubble. And the data shows that.

According to the TSA, nearly 1.3 million more people passed through their checkpoints on August 12, 2021, compared to the same day in 2020—2,045,301 versus 761,821, respectively. While there were still fewer travelers compared to 2019 (2,602,446), August 2021 travel suggests that more people are venturing out more often. That may be surprising, considering the increasingly risk presented by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Data analysis from Statista charted out travel numbers from 2021, 2020, and 2019, which shows that travel this year has been on a steady upswing since March. As the access to COVID-19 vaccines expanded, so did the number of travelers taking to the skies. While some nations still haven’t opened their borders to international travelers, other nations have created programs to allow vaccinated travelers entry.

Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and ​​a visiting professor of health policy and management at George Washington, spoke with CNN about the risks that travelers face and what kind of travel plans people should feel safe making for the near future. To Wen, a person's vaccination status really determines many of the risk factors.“The most important factor to consider is the medical risk of your household. Specifically, is everyone in your house vaccinated? If everyone is vaccinated and generally healthy, you are very well-protected from getting severely ill from COVID-19."

If you're comfortable with joining the millions of travelers making their way out into the world (and be sure to think about the risks right now), check out the best flight deals happening right now. And if you're concerned about certain destinations, read up on the CDC’s travel advisory list.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.