Thanksgiving travel season busiest in U.S. history

Written by By George Hobica, CNN

For the first time in our country’s history, more people flew during the Thanksgiving holiday period than showed up for work on the first day of the following year.

It was a busy travel season for U.S. airport workers and passengers as well, according to a post by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. On average, American travelers flew through airports during the Nov. 1-20 Thanksgiving week a full 3.5 million more than the average first Monday of the following year.

For the week, TSA reported 2,844,307 people flew through U.S. airports, a 7.5% increase over last year.

The first weekday when flight volume reached at least 2.3 million travelers:

Friday, Nov. 17 (average of 2,823,073 travelers, 17.1% up over Friday, Nov. 3, 2016)

Tuesday, Nov. 20 (average of 2,779,311 travelers, 1.4% up over Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2016)

“This has been our busiest year since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and in response, TSA invested significantly in personnel and equipment to ensure continued effectiveness,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a statement.

“TSA worked very closely with airlines to ensure that additional screening capabilities were in place to enable the busiest travel day of the year to proceed smoothly.”

Year after year, TSA said that the number of people traveling on the first weekday of the week exceeded the number of people traveling on that same day of the weekend. TSA described the busiest days as Nov. 12, 13, 21 and 22, respectively.

From its peak of 10.4 million on Thanksgiving, a Saturday in 2014, to 9.6 million in 2016, holiday travel in the United States has steadily increased. By comparison, about 150 million people traveled in America in 2016, with Friday, Thanksgiving, recorded as the busiest day of the year.

In the current fiscal year, which began in October, 4.2 million people have flown through the TSA’s nearly 5,000 security checkpoints.

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