Travel experts predict a significant increase in holiday air travel compared to 2020

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- While not quite at pre-pandemic levels, AAA's 2021 year-end travel forecast predicts a significant increase in air travel over the next two weeks, with 6.4-million Americans expected to fly, a 184 percent increase compared to 2020.

"Still about 12 percent off from where we were pre-pandemic, but certainly that's much closer in line to what we're seeing with the other modes of travel," explained Nick Jarmusz with AAA. "For a lot of folks that will be flying for the holidays, it's probably going to be their first flight that they've taken since the pandemic began, or certainly in quite a while. Be prepared, if that includes you, to know what the current procedures and policies are at the airport."

At Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport, masks are required for passengers while in the airport. The TSA also requires that masks be worn on planes and other forms of public transportation.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the mitigation strategies in place and the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine have played a factor in helping passengers like Alexandra Philpin choose to still fly.

"The only reason that I would fly is because of that," Philpin said, referring to the COVID-19 vaccine. "There's a little bit of hesitation but, you know, you've got to live, too. You can't just closet yourself up in your house and not live."

With the influx of passengers sharing that same confidence, the airport recommends arriving early to help make sure you make your flight on time.

"For those domestic flights, we are recommending if you're checking a bag, getting here two hours ahead of time to go through TSA," explained Stephanie Staudinger, public relations coordinator at Mitchell International Airport. "International, three hours to go through TSA."

The airport anticipates the holiday travel rush to last until Jan. 2, 2022, with the busiest days for this week expected to be Wednesday and Thursday.

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