HOUSTON - Millions of Americans will be traveling for Memorial Day Weekend. Experts predict the next three days to be the busiest travel days since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
According to AAA, an estimated 37 million people will travel at least 50 miles for the holiday. In addition, roughly 2.5 million people are expected to travel by air.
On Friday, lines were again noticeable at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
"It’s the most crowded I’ve ever seen it, in the past year," said Flute Barry, a traveler.
While some people continued flying through the pandemic, others didn’t. On Friday, we met Ben Cohen flying to Chicago. According to Cohen, this is his first time flying since the pandemic started.
"[It’s been] a little crazy today, but I’ve been vaccinated so I feel a little bit calmer," said Cohen.
We asked Cohen what allowed him to feel safe enough to return to the airport.
"Just the [COVID] case numbers being down, and being vaccinated," said Cohen.
"[Also], just wanting to see my family."
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), almost two million people went through TSA screenings on May 27, 2021. In comparison, 320,000 travelers went through TSA checkpoints that same day in 2020.
"I’ve traveled a few times since the pandemic started," said one traveler. "I can definitely see there are more people traveling."
United Airlines allowed us to tour the inside of one of their planes before it flew passengers to Denver. Crews could be seen cleaning and wiping everything down with a sanitizing solution. In addition, an ‘electrostatic’ spray was being used. We’re told these new cleaning measures are now happening before every single United flight.
"We make sure the aircraft are clean," said Phillip Griffith from United Airlines. "They’re sanitized between each flight. We also give passengers alcohol wipes and follow all CDC guidelines relating to masks. We think [those safety measures] make a big difference."
According to Griffith, United is now averaging roughly 350 flights per day out of IAH. That number, is up compared to last year, but still down compared to how many flights they had prior to the pandemic.
"We’ve been working real hard to build it back up after the pandemic struck," said Griffith. "We’re going to fly 32,000 customers today [out of IAH] and every day through the weekend."
Airlines are reminding travelers to arrive early and be patient as things slowly return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It’s just back to normal, but I’m vaccinated," said Barry. "I don’t have to worry about anything."