COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The urge to travel this summer has only intensified due to the vaccine rollout and COVID-19 restrictions lowering in many states.
Airports here in Columbus are starting to see it, too.
“Our latest available data shows that we’ve been having around 7,800 people coming through the airport each day, so things are definitely starting to pick up,” said Sarah McQuaide, communications and marketing manager for Columbus Regional Airport Authority.
McQuaide said compared to before the pandemic, they’re already operating at about 60 percent of the traffic they had in 2019.
This sudden increase is also being felt by the airports’ TSA staff, who are seeking to hire new members to handle the rush.
“We’ve got a lot of overtime at this point in time,” said Mark Grose, deputy assistant federal security director of screening operations at the TSA. “We’ve got staff members that normally don’t do screening processes coming in to help out where they can help out.”
Grose oversees screening operations at John Glenn International and said they’ve been working to recruit staff through hiring events.
He also said wait times may have increased slightly, but adds that the process is still going smooth, so long as people arrive early and remove any unallowed carry-on.
“I would tell you that I would arrive to the airport sooner than what you’d be used to with the COVID because people are getting somewhat surprised, because we have people showing up 15 minutes before their flight, which that can’t happen,” he said. “You need to be at least an hour and a half before your flight.”
Due to a TSA security directive, masks are still required on planes and in airports, even for those fully vaccinated, until Sept. 13.