HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – As COVID-19 case numbers remain low across the country, the Biden Administration is loosening travel restrictions, including mandatory testing. Beginning Sunday, international travelers will be able to board a flight without presenting a negative COVID-19 test result.
“One thing we’ve seen steadily climb is our passenger traffic ever since things began opening back up,” said Huntsville International Airport Public Relations Manager Mary Swanstrom.
Masks are also no longer required on domestic flights.
“It’ll allow a lot more people to travel and be a lot more relaxed about it,” said AAA Spokesperson Clay Ingram. “It will even open some doors I think for some unvaccinated people to go to some places. Italy, for example, is not requiring any kind of testing to get into their country.”
Ingram said the lessening of restrictions is expected to increase the number of people flying.
“Before you were worried if you went anywhere and staying a week, when it was time to come home, if you tested positive, you’d have to wait another ten days to get back in the U.S.,” Ingram said. “That discouraged a lot of people from traveling internationally.”
Swanstrom said she believes the Huntsville International Airport will soon see pre-pandemic numbers of flyers.
“People began to be more comfortable flying, businesses began asking people to fly again to go to meetings and things, and families just want to see relatives they haven’t seen in a few years,” Swanstrom said.
Travelers have also reported seeing higher ticket costs. Ingram said demand is driving prices up. Many people are traveling in the wake of the pandemic, and staffing shortages and increased operational costs result in fewer available flights.
“It depends on your destination, what day you want to travel, and how long you’re going to stay, a lot of variables, but if you’re headed somewhere that’s a more popular destination, it’s going to be more expensive,” Ingram said.
Ingram said flyers should plan ahead and purchase their tickets early to avoid some of the high prices.
The national price of a gallon of gas topped $5 on Thursday, according to AAA, and the cost of gas and other sources of inflation are reflected in what you pay to fly.
Over the last year, the Consumer Price Index for airline fares shows a 25% jump in the price of flights.
Swanstrom warns that staffing shortages coupled with more passenger traffic may result in longer wait times when you arrive at the airport. She recommends travelers arrive several minutes early for their flights.