TAMPA, Fla.— — Memorial Day Weekend is in full swing, with many people packing up for a trip for the first time since the pandemic started. Tampa International Airport expects thousands of passengers to come through the airport over the long weekend.
“Ever since vaccinations became more widespread, that’s when we started really seeing traffic pick up, so we think that’s what’s happening now,” said Emily Nipps, a Tampa International Airport spokesperson.
TPA expects to see about 65,000 passengers a day over the holiday weekend. Nipps says for Memorial Day Weekend in 2019, they'd see about 80,000 passengers a day at the peak, and last year, traffic was much lighter because of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Right now, we’re seeing about 75 to 80 percent of what we saw in 2019, so we are almost back to normal. Not quite back to normal,” said Nipps. “We still have some recovery to go. Once we start to see some of those international flights come back, we’re going to really start to see the passenger numbers build, so we think we’re going to have a very busy summer.”
Signs are posted in the airport reminding people to follow CDC guidelines and keep your distance. Nipps reminds people federal law requires people to wear a mask at the airport at all times.
Nicole Turner traveled to Tampa from Wisconsin with her family for the long weekend.
“I feel a lot better bringing our kids along now that they’ve afforded people to be able to get the vaccination anywhere from that early teen age all the way up to the elderly, so that makes me feel better about letting them get on the plane,” said Turner.
TPA staff say expect Monday and Tuesday to be busier than normal because of the holiday. Nipps says they’re seeing some longer lines than they’re used to, especially at TSA checkpoints, and suggests getting to the airport at least two hours before your flight leaves.
Darylneta Williams is going to Atlanta with her two young children for the first time during the pandemic.
“We’re super excited because they’re really close with my daughter, so they haven’t seen her in about a year and half, so we’re really excited to be able to go and see her and just be able to get back out and start back living life normally,” said Williams.