LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles International Airport officials reported a record number of passengers flying on Sunday, but the numbers still lag in comparison to passengers in 2019.
A spokesperson for LAX said the airport still has less than half of the travelers this year compared to the same time in 2019. However, compared to 2020, there is nearly a 500% increase in airport travelers.
TSA also reported the highest number of travelers Sunday, May 2, through checkpoints since the pandemic began with more than 1.6 million people going through the security checkpoints at airports. On May 2, 2020, only 170,000 people went through those checkpoints.
Doug Shupe, a spokesperson for the Automobile Club of Southern California said their data shows an increase in travel.
"We are seeing people are booking longer vacations and they're spending more money and that's the result of pent-up demand and household savings during the pandemic. This is very good news for the travel industry because it was hit very hard this past year," said Shupe.
Shupe said warm and sunny destinations are popular.
"We're actually hearing a lot of people who want to go to Hawaii, that's one of the top destinations right now, but other sunny destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean are extremely popular as well. Within the United States, we're hearing people want to travel to Orlando, of course, Disney World plays a role in that. Key West, New Orleans, and Seattle are also destinations," said Shupe.
The European Union laid out a proposal that would likely bring U.S. tourists back to visit Europe by the end of June too.
"We're hearing from a lot of our members about Europe when Europe fully opens up," said Shupe.
Dr. Edgar Chavez, the Medical Director of Universal Community Health Center, spoke about safety during travel.
"I think a lot of people are excited to get out. We've been in quarantine for a long time and now that the cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are at an all-time low, I think people are encouraged to travel," said Chavez.
Chavez said it is best to avoid some of the COVID "hot spots."
"Obviously you don't want to go to Michigan you don't want to go to some of these states where there's a lot of COVID right now because there's still a risk you could get COVID," he said.
Chavez also said to be cautious if traveling internationally.
"Internationally, I would give it a second thought. Right now there's a lot of variants that are going around especially from Brazil and India," said Chavez.
Chavez said it's important to take safety precautions too.
"The first thing is get vaccinated. We know that's the best thing you can do before you travel so you are protected, but obviously, the best things that are going to prevent you from getting COVID is always wearing your mask, no matter what the mandate is wherever you're going, having six feet of distance, washing your hands constantly," he said.
Chavez said the safest place at the airport is inside of the plane, but to be careful in the terminals, bathrooms, and other common areas.
With Memorial Day weekend approaching, airports expect to see more travelers.
"We anticipate that this is really just the start. We are approaching the Memorial Day holiday which is the unofficial start of the summer travel season so we expect a lot of people will be traveling," said Shupe.
Shupe said the best idea is to book a vacation in advance as people are already planning their trips for 2022.