The Transportation Security Administration screened 2.658 million passengers on Thursday, the highest number since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as U.S. holiday travel got off to a smooth start.

"So far so good," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNBC on Friday. Despite the record travel Thursday "the system held up quite well," Buttigieg added noting less than 1% of flights were canceled Thursday.

The number of passengers screened Thursday was the highest for a single day since November 2019.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimated more than 51,000 flights would take place Thursday, the highest number during the seven-day Memorial Day travel period. The FAA estimates that there will be about 4.5% more flights during the period versus 2022 but slightly less than 2019.

Airlines are in many cases operating larger planes today as they have trimmed flights -- especially in New York -- to smooth operations.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jason Neely and Chizu Nomiyama)