LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The destinations vary, but the feelings are pretty much the same as travelers flock to Los Angeles International Airport ahead of Memorial Day.
The TSA released travel numbers for Friday. Nationwide, they screened 1,959,593 air travelers. That’s the highest number since March 7, 2020, when they screened 2,119,867.
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A man pushes his bags on the departures level at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday as people travel for Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial start of the summer travel season. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
“With more people getting vaccinated, fewer COVID cases, it makes me feel a lot more confident in the safety of getting out and traveling and seeing people,” Chloe Nunnery said.
Nunnery was on her way Friday to visit family in Missouri. But she wasn’t the only one excited to be able to travel after a year of canceled plans and delayed vacations due to the pandemic.
Matthew Zerbo and Britney Ceglia were on their way to Kauai.
“We’re so excited, we’re looking forward to it,” Zerbo said. “We’re camping out on the Napali coast, which is why we have our packs, so we’re doing it all!”
“We’ve been on a plane before during this time,” Ceglia said. “So, they really are doing everything to really protect you.”
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Airport officials said May has been the busiest month at LAX since early 2020, before the onset of the pandemic. And AAA estimates about 270,000 passengers will fly at LAX this weekend. Last Sunday, nearly 75,000 passengers moved through security checkpoints, a record for 2021.
“I’m actually happy to see the airport is pretty full,” Zerbo said. “I think it means we’re coming back.”
And while passenger volume is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, airport officials said it is still significantly higher than last year.
As for those traveling, their excitement was palpable.
“You know how you wait for the day on Christmas to open up those presents, you’re excited and you can’t wait to go and do it,” Nowell Canonge said. “That’s the way I feel.”
According to AAA, SoCal travelers will be headed to national parks — with Zion and Bryce Canyon in Utah, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon leading the list. As for cities, San Diego and Las Vegas are the top spots.
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For those traveling through LAX, officials recommend arriving two hours before your flight and making a backup plan in case on-site parking garages are full. And, as a reminder, face masks are required on LAX property.