Last year, a typical U.S. travel day would see about 2.4 million passengers go through TSA screening checkpoints. Yesterday, October 18, the U.S. hit a major travel milestone when for the first time in 30 weeks over one million passengers again went through TSA checkpoints. Granted it is still below 50% on a year-over-year basis primarily due to lack of business travel but it does demonstrate that confidence is being rebuilt for the leisure traveler.
The 83 million Americans who traveled overseas last year are now facing another daunting winter of no concerts, no plays, no parties, and overall limited activities. These travelers should know that from a practical perspective testing is an effective method to protect travelers. Bermuda is the best example with a multi-test protocol that includes pre-testing, testing upon arrival, and multiple post-arrival tests. Bermuda has effectively reopened their tourism sector for months now while protecting their population and their visitors all through the discipline of testing. Since their July 1 reopening Bermuda has repatriated hundreds of residents and welcomed tens of thousands of visitors and has recorded a few dozen cases (primarily returning residents) and zero deaths. Testing works.
There was good news as well on the are-airplanes-safe-from-Covid-19 front. IATA published a study that found only 44 cases of Covid-19 transmission on airplanes among the 1.2 billion passengers who have flown, and most of those came prior to the mask mandate. United Airlines and the DoD did a separate study that found airplanes to be the “safest indoor public space” due to the air filtration systems on board.
The recently rolled-out 15-minute $5 rapid test from Abbott lab has shown to be just as effective as the more cumbersome PCR test that has been primarily used to date (with results taking 1-5 days or longer). This test is being put to use for travel at destinations including the Big Island of Hawaii and the Bahamas and already at five airports in the U.S. for inbound and outbound passengers. We expect to see this test show up across the board for both domestic and international travel.
It is coming just in time also for a number of new destinations planning their opening. On November 1, Anguilla is re-opening to U.S. travelers, Costa Rica will be open to travelers from all U.S. states, and the Bahamas will then allow visitors to leave their resort and explore the islands. The British Virgin Islands will be re-opening on December 1 and we hear rumor of the Cayman Islands reopening on or around that same day.
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