JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, so too did the restrictions that limited Americans’ ability to fly.
But heading into Memorial Day weekend, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1.9 million travelers at airports across the country. That’s the highest volume of travelers seen at U.S. security checkpoints since the start of the pandemic.
According to AAA’s predictions, the number of Americans expected to fly over the holiday weekend is roughly six times more than last year.
Among those travelers was Daniel Finnelly, who returned to Chicago on Monday morning after spending the weekend in Jacksonville. He said he didn’t run into any issues.
“I wore my mask on the plane. It was great. And then came here, felt like a whole new world, I guess you could say,” Finnelly told News4Jax. “Everyone felt like we’re back to normal.”
Perhaps the only hiccup travelers flying out of Jacksonville International Airport was having enough time to board their flights. Fortunately, the airport had a reminder ready to go.
“Traveling over Memorial Day Weekend? Remember to give yourself plenty of time to find parking, check bags and navigate through the TSA checkpoint,” the airport tweeted.
But with more people taking to the skies, airlines have reported an increase in the number of disorderly and unruly passengers, forcing at least two carriers to suspend alcohol service.
Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said air travel personnel have seen a staggering number of incidents involving unruly passengers in the first five months of 2021.
“We have more than 20 times the amount of incidents we might have in a normal year of unruly passengers,” Nelson said. “People are coming to the door of our aircraft in a combative mood. They’ve been led to believe the safety precautions we have in place are a political issue, rather than a public health necessity, and it has created this atmosphere that we’ve never seen before.”
As more Americans travel and states lift COVID-19 restrictions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 41 percent of the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated.
Airport officials are reminding travelers that masks are required while in the airport and on board their flights. So, don’t be surprised to find signs and other reminders during your trip.