As summer travel officially begins, air travel is making a much speedier comeback than travel experts projected. The Transportation Security Administration reported last Sunday that it has screened 2.1 million travelers at airports around the country. This is the highest single-day number since March 7, 2020.
The huge numbers of summer travelers are stretching the country’s airports and systems to their limits, as airlines and airports scramble to restore operations that were ravaged by the pandemic last year. On Sunday, nearly 10,000 flights were delayed in the United States as travel increased and airlines dealt with poor weather and other delays. Over the last weekend, American Airlines canceled over 1,000 flights from its July schedule to give it more breathing room as the travel boom and other factors strain its operations. Southwest Airlines on the other hand has had trouble maintaining its flight schedule.
Executives at airlines and airports say they expected vaccines and fewer restrictions to ignite a fresh surge in travel, but the pace and breadth of the recovery have surpassed their expectations. Even minus the return of business and international travel, the number of travelers traveling through U.S. airports has surpassed two million on some days, a level last recorded in March 2020. The Fourth of July, which is often the busiest travel day of the summer, is quickly approaching. Most flights are 83 percent full on average, and considerably more so during peak times. Last year, airlines provided huge discounts and promotions to entice travelers. Right now, airfares are on the rise.
If long TSA queues and flight schedule disruptions weren’t enough, travelers are also complaining about spending hours looking for parking and, in some cases, missing flights as a result. Airport officials have stated that they are striving to reduce the overcrowding in the parking lots.
After Hartsfield-Jackson Airport parking lots were full last weekend, the airport reopened a park-ride lot that had been closed during the pandemic. The ATL Select park-ride lot at 1800 Sullivan Road has added 1,500 parking spaces since it opened on Saturday. Bostonians are also facing trouble finding parking. Logan Airport parking spots are becoming increasingly hard to come by. Following last year’s pandemic, the airport had closed the Economy Lot, the cheapest of the onsite lots. Likewise, the garage at Terminal B and the Logan Express parking lot in Peabody is also unavailable. Newark Airport parking rates cost almost twice as much as they did in 2020, that is if you can find one! SFO Airport parking lots are also beginning to feel the strain with San Francisco Airport recently recording 39,600 outbound passengers in a week – its highest in recent times.
If you’re planning on traveling this summer be sure to book your Hartsfield Jackson Airport parking, Logan Airport parking, SFO Airport parking, and Newark Airport parking as soon as you’ve booked your flight tickets. To avoid long queues at security checks, airlines and airports have recommended that passengers arrive early at several understaffed airports. You don’t want to be rushing around for a parking spot and get delayed too much. Please also be sure to continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
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