How do global crises impact air traffic in the US

Carsten Sandtner
3 min readMay 11, 2021

For my capstone project in Udacitiy Data Visualization Nanodegree Program, I’ve created a makeover for MakeoverMonday 2021/W16: Monthly Air Passengers in America. The original plot created by CNBC shows how Covid-19 had a major impact on US air travel in 2020.

The data set included data for every year since 2000. My approach is showing the impact other crises caused for US air travel.

The Question I’m answering with my dashboard is

How do global crisis impact air traffic in the US

I’ve created a dashboard with Tableau Public.

My Dashboard (Image by author)

My Design Decisions

Covid-19 isn’t the first crisis which shows effects for air travel. Using the data set I’m able to show how other crises had their impact.

I’m showing how 9/11 2001, the financial crisis 2008 and Covid-19 led into dramatic changes in US air traffic.

Since 9/11 and Covid-19 rapidly showed their effect, financial crisis 2008 hat its impact form 2008 till 2009.

To show rapid impacts, I’m using one line chart for 2001 and 2020. The dramatic decrease in passengers is obvious to recognize.

Line chart (Image by author)

For financial crisis I’m using a bar chart showing the percentile difference compared to previous year. With this visualization, it’s obvious to recognize decreasing passengers in 2008 and 2009.

Bar Chart (Image by author)

To get an idea how dramatically Covid-19 hit air traffic I’ve decided to show numbers as BAN (Big Ass Numbers) in Total flights 2020, percentile change compared to 2019 and a little bar chart of the last five years.

BAN for 2020 (Image by author)


My Dashboard uses only a few colors. “Normal” years are plotted with light gray. 2001, 2008, 2009 and 2020 have highlight colors. Color palette is optimized for color-blind people.


Annotations describe when a crisis had its impact for air traffic, used in both — Line Chart and Bar Chart. I don’t use a legend, as the lines and bars are being self explaining using either labels for the lines or reasonable labeled axes.

Biases & Limitations:

A limitation of the data set is having only travel data until October 2020.

The data set has the number of passengers passing TSA scans. It would be interesting to see the number of flights happened and if more effects are being visible.

Differences to original visualization

The original visualization for the data set focused on Covid-19. My Dashboard shows, how other global crises had a major impact for US Air Traffic.



Carsten Sandtner

Tech, Travel, and Life. Apple addict who loves travelling with his camper van and writing about mentioned topics.