Post-Thanksgiving air traffic easily hits pandemic high

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Air travel hit a new pandemic high in the United States on Sunday, with nearly 2.5 million passengers passing through Transportation Security Agency (TSA) checkpoints.

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein tweeted Monday that the agency screened 2.45 million individuals nationwide Sunday, topping the pandemic record by more than 6 percent.

The previous record had been set the day before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The agency said passenger throughput during the 10-day Thanksgiving travel period was about 89 percent of pre-pandemic levels, nearly matching expectations with 20.9 million total passengers passing through U.S. airports.

The TSA screened more than 2 million passengers daily for a week beginning Nov. 18, the longest such streak during the pandemic.

Officials are warning passengers to wear masks and arrive at the airport early as some airports report congestion during the holiday travel period.

At Newark Liberty International Airport, officials reported a shortage of taxis on Sunday and two other days last week, encouraging passengers to use public transportation or ride-sharing apps.

On Thanksgiving Day, Washington's Reagan National Airport ran out of parking except for those with advanced reservations.

The increase in air traffic comes amid wide availability of COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, but the threat of the omicron variant is now reigniting health concerns.

The Biden administration restricted travel from eight African countries beginning Monday in an effort to control omicron as the World Health Organization declared it a "variant of concern."

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