WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — Memorial Day marks the first major holiday since the nation’s vaccine rollout. That means millions of Americans are hitting the roads and skies.
AAA Travel expects to see around 37 million Americans travel this weekend; a 60% increase from a record low of 23 million travelers last year. The AAA has been keeping track since 2000.
They foresee 6 million fewer travelers than the pre-pandemic weekend back in 2019.
Over 90% of this weekend’s travelers are expected to hit the road, and AAA forecasts seeing nearly 2.5 million Americans boarding airplanes. Other travelers may opt-in for the train, bus, or other modes of transportation.
This is still a major increase in air travel since COVID hit; this weekend’s forecasted air travel could reach a +577% increase from last year’s low. Compared to 2019, 750,000 fewer air travelers are expected this year.
Lately, Bradley International Airport has been adding more flights every day, and they even welcomed a new carrier Thursday.
This Friday morning, it is exceptionally busy, according to some travelers at Bradley.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this busy,” Julie Turbert of West Haven told News 8 early Friday morning. “I wish we could take these [masks] off, my glasses get fogged up.”
“It’s been awesome to see everybody get back out again and go through the motions. It’s been empty through COVID so it’s good to finally be doing it again,” said Hannah Slagle of West Hartford.
At Bradley, travel has been steadily picking up over the last three months, and as Connecticut leads the country in vaccination, The airport authority expects it to be a busy travel weekend.
“I feel fine. I’m not nervous or anything. It’s good to get out of the house,” said Turbert.
Airport Authority CEO Kevin Dillon said, “Gradual ramp up a passenger traffic, seems to coincide directly with the vaccine rollout, so more and more as people are vaccinated they are feeling much more comfortable to fly.”
“We feel safe. We’ve been vaccinated now for quite a long time. We have flown to Florida before for family issues. But we’re happy to be traveling and do feel like it’s a good thing,” said Mimi Kirouac, Hatfield, Mass.
And as flights continue to sell out, the carriers are adding more planes, to more routes, and even some new ones.
“JetBlue added for additional cities, LA, San Francisco, Cancun and Las Vegas. Southwest added Nashville service, so what we’re hoping is that we will resume a lot of the nonstops that were suspended,” Dillon added.
If you haven’t been to Bradley international airport in the last year. When you pull up, the skyline is going to look a whole lot different. There is a lot of parking now, and parking structures. What they are trying to do is trying to create more ground transportation and parking.
“It’s going to house all of our rental car operations. Today, they’re scattered in and around the airport, you no longer have to take a bus from Bradley to get your rental car,” Dillon said. “It’s also going to have some covered parking. It’s something that we see our passengers really want.”
According to AAA the most booked destination this weekend is Orlando, Florida.
You are going to have to wear your mask at the airport, whatever airport you go to. It is federally mandated, so keep it on until you get off airport grounds, and then you can take it off and celebrate Memorial Day.