Checking in on airport travel one year into the COVID-19 pandemic
COVID grounded planes, travel plans, and the airline industry for a while, but passengers once again are taking to the friendly skies and at a record rate in nearly a year.
TSA officers screened the highest number of passengers on a single day since March 15th, 2020 over the weekend with more than 1.3 million people at airports on Friday alone, some of them here at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport Executive Director Clay Williams said, “What we’re starting to see now in 2021, in this first quarter, is an uptick in travel. There’s a great deal of pent-up leisure demands. We’re seeing a lot of people who want to get out and take vacations and trips, so we’re very, very pleased to see that.”
“I mentioned the military travel that’s been driving some of the recovery here at the airport, but our casino charter traffic has definitely seen an increase. They restarted the charter flights back at the end of July, both MGM Resorts-Beau Rivage and Harrah’s Gulf Coast are flying charters in and out of the airport. It’s great to see those numbers continually increase on a daily basis.”
Regardless of why you’re traveling, Williams says safety while flying is a sure bet especially with all the protocols and guidelines currently in place. “The plexiglass shields at the airline ticket counters. You’ll see social distancing markers throughout the airport. There are certain elements people need to be aware of with TSA. You can now carry hand sanitizer on the airplane when you go.”
The Department of Homeland Security requires everyone wear a mask. As for international travel: “You’re going to want to see what the requirement is for that particular country, and for those who are coming back to the United States it’s required that they show a negative COVID test.”
Sound advice for all travelers, check in at least an hour before your flight and keep up-to-date on your travel plans. “I can’t stress enough to check ahead based on where you’re going based on what expectations are once you get there, and also check with your airline to see if there are any changes as they have occurred with some frequency.”