Ready to fly again? Here's what to expect at Philadelphia International Airport

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The summer travel season is expected to take on a new life this year, as more people look to get away after more than a year of coronavirus restrictions.

For those who haven't traveled since before the pandemic, things will look a little different, especially if you are flying.

The TSA says it is seeing about half of the travelers that it saw in 2019 - before the pandemic - but the numbers are increasing.

As you head to the airport, don't forget your mask and expect the boarding process to be cleaner. And keep in mind, there will be less contact with airport staff than you may remember.

Long lines at the airport are a sure sign that travel confidence is increasing.

"I was traveling at the beginning of COVID when there was one or two people on the plane with you. Things were weird. The airport was a ghost town. It was scary, you know," said Grier Wakefield - Wilmington

Travel experts say we are set to see a travel boom as COVID-19 cases decrease, more people get vaccinated and states begin easing restrictions.

"Our passenger volumes are starting to grow," said Gerardo Spero, TSA's Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport.

TSA workers at Philadelphia International Airport say they are ready for the crowds but want passengers to know, there will be some changes at the checkpoint.

Most importantly, you must be wearing a mask.

"'We will ask you to put one on if you have one. We will offer to give you one if we have but ultimately, if you don't have a mask you won't be allowed to go through the screening process," said Spero.

Travelers will also be asked to remain socially distant. TSA officers will be wearing masks and gloves and standing behind safety barriers. The flight experience will now be more sanitary with routine cleanings of frequently touched surfaces.

"You will see that we will change our gloves when we do pat-downs. You will see we change our swabs when we do swipes. So all of these measures are in place to protect you," said Spero.

Those TSA bins are a hotspot for germs and to reduce your contact with them, travelers are being asked to place everything from their pockets into a carry-on.

Travelers say the vaccine rollout has definitely boosted their confidence but many are itching to one day ditch the masks.

"I feel safe, since everybody got vaccinated. We are all vaccinated and I feel very comfortable," said Joe McLaughlin of Dover, Delaware.

"I never stopped traveling, so to me it is not a big deal. They are starting to fill the middle seat now but it is just a pain in the butt to wear a mask on a plane, especially long flights," said Russ Smiley of Atlanta, Georgia.

AAA says travel across the board is increasing, in particular, with travel within the U.S. The agency says many families are booking trips to amusement parks, national parks and taking camping trips.
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