Surge in air travel amid increase in COVID-19 vaccinations

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Long lines and crowded planes are emerging at airports across the country as demand for travel picks up after more than a year in lockdown due to COVID-19.

"The line for the airline was like wrapped around the corner, it was 4 a.m.," said Tyhesia Robinson of Northeast Philadelphia.

At Philadelphia International Airport, officials report the end of 2020 was down 64% of passengers from pre-pandemic levels. However, for the month of March 2021, passenger counts were down 30% to 40%.

"We really think the month of March was when we started to see things pick up and that's partially because of spring break, but also partially because of the vaccine rates increasing," said Florence Brown, director of communications for the City of Philadelphia, Division of Aviation Philadelphia International and Northeast Airports.

Sewell residents Vince Doud and his wife Jaclyn were traveling to visit his mother in South Carolina. It's their first time flying since the coronavirus hit.

"Definitely during the holidays when the rates were super high we wouldn't have traveled, so now that the rates are lower and we're vaccinated definitely feeling a lot more comfortable," said Jaclyn.

As the number of people flying goes up, so do prices. The rental car industry was decimated during the pandemic.

"We profitably disposed of approximately 40,000 and approximately 250,000 vehicles globally, including a record 18,000 and 127,000 vehicles sold through alternative channels in the U.S., for the quarter and full year respectively," said Avis Budget Group in a statement.

Now, the surge of travelers are seeing less rental car availability.

"In some markets like Hawaii and Florida, we're seeing up to 300% increases so you're looking at $250 and up in some markets. So the cost of your car can be way more than your flight these days," said Brian Kelly, founder of

Philadelphia International Airport resumed transatlantic travel about two weeks ago. PHL officials report the most common destinations for Philadelphia area travelers are beach destinations and the southern states.
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