The Transportation Security Administration screened fewer than 100,000 people on Tuesday, a drop of 95% from a year ago.
The official tally of 97,130 people who passed through TSA checkpoints exaggerates the number of travelers – if that is possible – because it includes some airline crew members and people still working at shops inside airport security perimeters.
Historical daily numbers only go back so far, but the nation averaged 97,000 passengers a day in 1954, according to figures from trade group Airlines for America. It was the dawn of the jet age. The de Havilland Comet, the first commercial jetliner, was just a few years old, and Boeing was running test flights with the jet that would become the iconic 707.
As air travel became safer and more affordable, the passenger numbers grew nearly every year. There was no commercial air travel in the U.S. for several days after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and people were slow to get back on planes in following months.
It could be longer this time. Polling firm Public Opinion Strategies said that fewer than half the Americans it surveyed about 10 days ago say they will get on a plane within six months of the spread of the virus flattening.
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