More than 37 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday weekend. AAA is forecasting a 60% increase in getaway traffic over Memorial Day 2020.
“As Americans continue to get vaccinated and the pandemic restrictions ease, it’s clear that more people are returning to personal domestic travel,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
This past Sunday, nearly 1.9 million people passed through TSA checkpoints. That is the largest one day number since COVID restrictions began.
But while we’re seeing more travelers, we’re also seeing more incidents of air rage.
An altercation between a passenger and a flight attendant aboard a Southwest flight this Sunday left the flight attendant with two broken teeth.
Since the face covering mandate was implemented, TSA reports 1,300 cases related to face mask non-compliance and more than 60 cases of TSA workers physically assaulted.
“We’re not going to tolerate behavior that threatens the well-being of the public, the employees that bravely are on the front lines to facilitate the travel for individuals who want to reunite with friends and family,” said Mayorkas.
Aside from disturbing air rage incidents, some Americans have overall travel hesitation while COVID is still circulating. If checking into a hotel or being in a public setting or sitting near strangers gives you anxiety, it’s normal.
Dr. Judith Joseph is a child and adult psychiatrist.
“Changes in anything in your environment can cause anxiety,” said Joseph. “What I suggest to my clients is you start to expose your brain to the idea of traveling and that way when you do travel, you’re less anxious.”
Taking incremental steps is key.
“For example if you know you’re going to a certain destination, start to look at pictures of that destination every day, start to pack a little bit daily start to prepare your brain for what to expected so that when you get on that plane you don’t have anxiety.”
Dr. Joseph also advises if you’re traveling to a location with a higher rate of covid transmission, decide in advance what activities you will and will not do, so you lessen the stress and anxiety when you arrive.
“Are you going to go indoors? If you go indoors will that place have a capacity [limit]? There are ways for your brain to get accustomed to the idea of things that make you afraid or worried so that when you’re in that situation, you’re less anxious or overwhelmed,” said Joseph.
Air travel is expected to soar this summer and the TSA is adding 6,000 more officers.
Masks are still required at all airports and on planes. The TSA says they will start enforcing fines. An individual who refuses to wear a face mask will be fined $250. Repeat offenders can be fined to $1500.