SEATAC, Wash. — Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is bracing for a busy travel weekend as Memorial Day approaches.
For some travelers, the three-day weekend will mark their first trip by air since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. more than a year ago.
"It’s somewhat of a big decision, but we’re going to do it. We’re excited about it," said Linda Reece of Seattle. Linda and her husband, Gary, are both in their early 70s. They've both received their COVID-19 vaccine and are ready to travel across the country to visit their adult son.
"We haven’t done any traveling. It’s been like being in a house arrest for a lot of us until we got the shots," said Gary Reece.
Officials at Sea-Tac Airport are expecting many like-minded passengers this Memorial Day weekend who are looking to get away.
"From a numbers standpoint, we are expecting here on Thursday and Friday to see over 40,000 people departing through the checkpoints on each of those days. That will be higher than anything we’ve seen so far since the pandemic," said Perry Cooper, a spokesperson for Sea-Tac Airport.
Sea-Tac Airport saw record crowds over the Easter weekend. Cooper said social distancing is the reason why the line, at certain points throughout the day, backed out to the parking garage. This coming weekend they predict even more travelers.
"I think that consumer confidence will come back – unfortunately, there is a part of the nation that doesn’t want to get vaccinated and that’s a concern, but being vaccinated that’s less of a concern," Gary Reece continued.
Travel will be up, yes, but officials said don't expect pre-pandemic numbers just yet. Should Sea-Tac Airport reach the predicted number of travelers this weekend, it will still be down 40% from a non-coronavirus year.
But still, it's progress.
Before travelers head to the airport this weekend, Port of Seattle officials are reminding passengers that a federal mask mandate on transportation remains in effect, meaning even if you're fully vaccinated -- you'll need to wear a mask.