Millions expected to travel for Labor Day weekend, officials express cautious optimism

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON D.C. (WCMH) — Despite the pandemic, millions of Americans will travel this Labor Day weekend both by car and airplane.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske expects Friday to be this holiday weekend’s top travel day at the nation’s airports.

“We think we might break 900,000 passengers, which would be the highest number we’ve had since the pandemic,” Pekoske said.

Pekoske says the 4th of July weekend saw about 750,000 passengers on its peak travel day.

“That’s about a 20 percent increase from the major middle holiday in the summertime,” he said.

He’s encouraged by the numbers, and thinks more Americans feel safer getting on a plane.

“Between the airports and the carriers and TSA, we’ve done a very good job of providing protective measures,” he said.

Those measures could soon include new technology, like a contact-less ID scanner that’s being tested at Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C.

“That not only improves security substantially but also reduces the contact a passenger will have,” Pekoske said.

But it’s not just skies that will see more travelers this weekend. More Americans are expected to hit the highways. and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says while that’s good for the economy, travelers everywhere need to keep COVID-19 in mind.

“We encourage people to do three simple things: one is to wear their face mask, practice social distancing, practice social hygiene as well,” Chao said.

AAA says about 97 percent of Americans who travel this weekend will do so by car.
But no matter the method, many will experience the “new normal” of travel for the first time.

“A lot of people are going to travel this weekend that haven’t traveled since the pandemic,” Pekoske said.

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