SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Last year, passengers at the Springfield-Branson National Airport were down 95%
Usually seeing 1,500 people daily, the airport was seeing about 100 a day.
But just over the past couple of weeks, the airport is seeing much more passengers than in the past year.
One reason why people are all of a sudden traveling again is because of “revenge travel.”
“In 25 years of travel, we’ve never been this busy, ever,” said Travis Paquin, co-owner of 417 Travel, a travel agency here in Springfield. “We’re trying to put two years of travel into one.”
“After being locked up in the house for over 12 months, people want to go out and do something,” said Kent Boyd, airport spokesperson with the Springfield-Branson National Airport.
Paquin says a lot of memories had to be delayed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Honeymoons, anniversaries, graduation trips. It’s been a crazy year for everybody.”
“I was going to travel last year, but it got canceled because of COVID-19,” said Terry Messer, a traveler. “I’m looking forward to just getting out, away from home, and going to the beach.”
Usually, popular destinations include Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean. “Right now, anywhere. People are wanting to go anywhere,” said Paquin. “They’re saying, now’s the year we’re going to take the trip we’ve always dreamed about. It’s not just another summer trip, it’s the bucket list, it’s the dream vacation.”
“Things have been picking up so fast in the past couple of weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if the passenger numbers turn out to be 80, 85% of what we would consider “normal,” meaning pre-pandemic,” said Boyd.
And Boyd says there’s an obvious reason for it. “Just about half of the population in the United States right now is vaccinated, and that really seems to be giving people the confidence to get out, and get out of the house.”
“Lately, with the vaccines, being more prevalent, people being a little more confident,” said Paquin.
And even though the mask mandate is being lifted here in Springfield, you are still required by federal law to wear a mask in airports.
“If you’re going to fly, you need to wear that mask you’re not even going to be able to get on the airplane if you’re not masked,” said Boyd.
But travelers say it’s not at all inconvenient.
“It’s like the same atmosphere, except everyone has a mask on,” said Eric Braun, a traveler for ten years.
Braun says the safety measures taken this past year are good changes.
“It’s obvious that they’re taking extra steps to clean the resort,” said Braun. “I think it’s above and beyond what I would have expected. I think a lot of people have a misunderstanding that they think that some of the changes are going to be scary. Just like when we start going to the airport, taking our shoes off, it’s better to be over secure than not secure at all. When you go on an airplane, you just know it’s different, just like when we started going to the airport, taking our shoes off, and things like that, it’s better to be over-secure, than not secure at all.”
“Think about what an airport environment is,” said Boyd. “You’ve got people from all over the country, you’ve got people from all over the world. You’re coming to this big melting pot where there are all these viruses, things going on, so why not wear a mask?”
“They’ve done so much to protect the public, I think anybody that’s probably a little bit concerned about any kind of travel would be pleasantly surprised,” said Braun.
And speaking of air travel, airlines are now considering weighing passengers due to obesity rates increasing.
This could cause airplanes to take on more weight than they are designed for.
Ozarks Technical Community College’s Chair of Aviation Kyle Mckee gave KOLR10’s Frances Lin an in-depth lesson on how weight can affect air travel.
Find out what he said here: