FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Travelers across the country are expected to see the some of the busiest travel days since the start of the pandemic, and South Florida airports are no exception.
Officials said they expect more than 660,000 passengers to travel daily out of Miami International Airport during the Memorial Day Weekend.
That number is only about 10% lower than the pre-pandemic numbers in 2019.
Officials at MIA advise travelers to arrive at the airport at least two hours before their flight is scheduled to take off.
“Probably this weekend will be crazy,” said one airport traveler. “Hopefully everyone just follows everything accordingly to the COVID and all the requirements. The vaccine, is very important that you have the vaccine, if not, you have to have the test.”
“I feel very comfortable, especially being vaccinated,” said Nicholas Rivas who was traveling to Colombia.
“More people are aware,” said Coley Cole who was traveling to host an event. “More Americans are getting vaccinated, so that brings some comfort to my mind.”
Masks are still a requirement when traveling, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, officials are expecting more than 630,000 travelers to fly in and out between Wednesday and the following Tuesday.
“I haven’t traveled since the pandemic,” said a traveler who identified herself as Carol. “Yeah, I’m looking forward to go home.”
“I think this year will be really good for our country and to get back to normal,” said Danielle Vallortigara, who was traveling to a wedding.
7News cameras captured long lines of travelers waiting to check in at FLL’s Spirit desk, Thursday afternoon.
“Getting busier, for sure. I would say, about a month ago, this was empty. It would take me like five minutes,” said traveler Lauren Raichovich.
Carol, who was traveling to the Virgin Islands, said she hasn’t seen her family in two years.
“I am fully vaccinated and decided to travel,” she said.
“We cancelled the trip three times because of COVID, but we’re here now,” said traveler Jim Resinel.
FLL traveler Jerry Gonzalez said he has a full itinerary of things to do during his trip.
“Chill, have fun, hike, fishing, camping, all that fun stuff,” he said.
Gonzalez, a student, said traveling is good for his mental health.
“I want everything to go back to normal, traveling and all that fun stuff. Also, as a student, it’s stressful for me to not travel, do classes online, so going out is just very healthy for me mentally,” he said.
Though air travel will be busy, it is not the way most people will be traveling. Nine out of 10 travelers will be reaching their destinations by car.
“We’re anticipating more than 2 million Floridians to take a trip of 50 miles or more this weekend,” said AAA Florida representative Mark Jennings. “A majority of them, of course, will be driving. With more people back on the roadways, you should expect more congestions, so we’re just encouraging people to be patient and don’t drive distracted.”
Nationwide, close to 37 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more between May 27 and May 31 — a 63% increase from last year when only 23 million people traveled.
Prices at the pump have increased ahead of the busy weekend. The U.S. is seeing the highest gas prices since 2014 with a national average of more than $3 a gallon.
An increase in global oil prices and the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack are contributing to the raised prices.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also has a message for those who will be traveling.
“If you are vaccinated, you are protected, and you can enjoy your Memorial Day. If you are not vaccinated, our guidance does not change for you. You remain at risk of infection, you still need to mask and take other precautions,” she said.
The single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available at MIA’s Concourse D between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.
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