Home Airports This Metric Shows A Better Picture Of The State Of Air Travel Than TSA Numbers

This Metric Shows A Better Picture Of The State Of Air Travel Than TSA Numbers

by joeheg

One of the ways people who follow the air travel industry get a grasp on how things are recovering is by checking TSA checkpoint travel numbers. The TSA updates the numbers daily on Monday-Friday and besides providing this year’s number, they also show a comparison to last year. 

Here are the checkpoint numbers for the 4th of July weekend. For the five days, travel volume was only 28% of last year’s level.

Screen Shot 2020-07-07 at 10.19.44 AM

Anyone can use these numbers to make their own charts, graphs and interpretations showing how air travel is recovering and throwing out percentages of growth from week to week. All these numbers really show is that people are starting to fly again and things are up from the dismal lows we saw back in April.

However, the experience for those flying isn’t anything like it was back in March, the last month where air travel was still near 2019 levels.

I’ve found a better way to tell how air travel is recovering and it even shows it airport by airport, instead of national numbers. I call it the closed airport lounge percentage.

I was updating my post about the lounges of Orlando Airport and while poking around websites, I decided to look at what was open.

  • American Admirals Club – Open only as a service center (no food, drinks or seating)
  • The Club @MCO Airside 1 – Opened June 29 with temporary hours
  • The Club @MCO Airside 4 – Closed
  • Delta Sky Club – Closed
  • United Club – Closed

When I’d last looked in March, the only location still open was United’s. Since then, that club closed and one of the airport’s The Club locations has just opened back up. So the closed club percentage at MCO is 80%

I looked up Austin, TX. which is another airport where we frequently travel. Here are their current lounge statuses.

  • American Admirals Club – Open only as a service center (no food, drinks or seating)
  • Delta Sky Club – Closed
  • United Club – Closed

Austin’s (AUS) closed club percentage is 100%

You can look at any airport to see that while the number of people traveling on planes is going up, that we’re still only around 30%. Planes just feel full because the airlines have slashed capacity to match the volume of passengers.

A better benchmark to tell when the air travel industry is feeling better about things will be when they start opening up their lounges. This will not only mean that the number of passengers is sufficient to support them but the type of travelers who visited lounges before are getting back onto planes again.

#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

 

1 comment

Rob July 7, 2020 - 4:00 pm

I’m not so sure that the lounge openings are indicative of passenger travel returning (or not) so much as a reaction to the current restrictions on food service, social distancing, cleaning/disinfection requirements, etc. Much of the value of a lounge is in the food and seating, and if a locality or state’s reopening guidelines make the provision of those services onerous such that the value to the passenger is greatly reduced or increase the cost of providing those services beyond what would it would be worth, then closing is likely the answer.

Obviously, AA has its clubs in the two airports you looked at open as service centers. That wouldn’t be much of a value proposition to keeping open a private lounge, such as The Club or American Express. As for Delta and United, perhaps they’ve made the calculation that opening up their clubs simply to offer customer service is not justified based upon passenger levels and the ability of other airport staff to assist them.

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