Memorial Day weekend travel almost back to normal, even with COVID protocols in place


(WHTM) — We’re about to hit yet another milestone on the march back to normal. A summer that’ll feel something like normal in a lot of ways.

It all starts with our first somewhat-normal holiday travel weekend in over a year.

Elsnida Ortiz of Lancaster has seen the future. Her first time returning from a trip by airplane with her sisters Elba and Maria there to visit the other sister in Georgia. Just as other people get ready to head out for the first time. The immediate future, at least, doesn’t look exactly like the past.

“Everything changed, yes. Even with the mask,” Ortiz said.

Masks are still required for now in airports and on airplanes, even with restrictions lifting elsewhere. This, as six times as many Americans get ready to travel this Memorial Day Weekend compared to last year according to AAA.

The departures and arrivals boards at Harrisburg International are once again filling up with flights.

“We have almost as many flights as we had to destinations two years ago, but they’re in smaller planes,” Airport Spokesman Scott Miller said.

Miller says this is due to not as many people traveling as they were pre-COVID. Although, it’s looking a bit more like the distant past than the recent past.

“The best year we’ve ever had here is in gray. Last year, 2020 obviously became the worst year we’ve ever had. Now 2021 is right here in the middle, and we’re growing back toward 2019 levels,” Miller said.

Most of the 37 million Americans who will travel this weekend will be in cars, including twice as many on Pennsylvania’s turnpike as last Memorial Day, meaning it’s time to forget some 2020 driving habits.

“We saw a lot of speeding and distracted driving in 2020 because there was little traffic on the road,” Turnpike Commission Spokesman, Carl Defebo said.

With double the traffic now, Defebo says to please slow down and pay attention. Not bad advice at the airport either.

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