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CCIA sees an increase in holiday travel after pandemic grounded many people

Posted at 8:14 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 21:16:09-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The pandemic changed the number of people flying in the almost two years since it started.

In early 2020, many were hesitant to fly. But Corpus Christi International Airport officials said Monday that hesitancy looks like it's passing.

It was a busy holiday season on Monday at CCIA, with people saying their hellos and goodbyes to loved ones at the door.

CCIA Aviation Director Kevin Smith said flight bookings are soaring and breaking records, sometimes even more so than before the pandemic.

“We’re seeing record bookings right now for advance travel, so we’re real excited about that,” Smith said.

Smith said last year, flight bookings were at about 70 percent, while this year they are up to about 90 percent with some airlines such as American Airlines and Southwest booking at 100 percent capacity.

“I was out here yesterday at about noon and there wasn’t a seat that was empty in the concourse, and the baggage claims were full," he said. "I mean, it was really exciting.”

According to the TSA, as of today, there are about 2.2 million people flying. On this same date last year, there were only slightly more than one million people flying. Those numbers are about neck and neck with pre-pandemic numbers from 2019, with around 2.3 million people flying in the United States.

Some customers who were flying on Monday are feeling more comfortable flying this year as opposed to last year.

“I think more people are getting vaccinated, so I’m not really worried," traveler Karen Cowan said. "I'm really more worried about delays.”

While delays could be possible, Smith said any cancellations travelers may experience would be due to a shortage of pilots and flights attendants. It's an issue that some carriers such as American Airlines Group, however, have been looking to avoid by hiring staff from it's smaller subsidiaries.

However, he said that shortage should be over by March and that people whose flights were canceled in the past were offered another flight. He said business also picks back up around March, when Spring Break rolls around.

Smith said the vaccine mandate set by the government for TSA and airline workers shouldn’t affect holiday travel because it’s not mandated until after the holidays.

“It’s nicer, since I do work in a hospital, it is a little nicer to know people have been vaccinated,” Mary Olney said.