Increased air travel having positive impact on Palm Beach County tourism revenue

TSA records highest passenger screenings of 2021 on Sunday
Travelers at Palm Beach International Airport on March 29, 2021.
Posted at 12:17 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 18:28:40-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The number of people traveling by airplane continues to increase as confidence grows that the U.S. is gaining ground in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus | Rebound South Florida

Figures released Sunday by the Transportation Security Administration show that more passengers took flights Sunday than any day this year.

TSA checkpoint travel numbers revealed that 1,574,228 passengers were screened on Sunday. About 4.5 million people were screened at U.S. airports from Friday to Sunday.

That number is significantly higher than the 180,002 passengers screened on the same day in 2020 as the world continued to shutter and the pandemic took hold of the country.

Despite the increased travel, Sunday's numbers are still about 1.5 million fewer passengers that were screened on March 28, 2019.

Airlines are hoping that travel will continue to rebound with the summer travel season approaching and more Americans look to take vacations.

United Airlines announced last week they are restarting more than 20 domestic routes.

Fifteen percent of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated as of Monday, according to the CDC's COVID Data Tracker.

The terminal at Palm Beach International Airport was busy Monday with people flying in from across the U.S.

Travelers at PBIA pointed to good deals on airfares, vaccinations and South Florida weather leading them to decide to come here.

"This is actually the busiest I've seen it here, and the flight was packed," said Deanna Passalacqua of New Jersey, who arrived for a visit this week.

Among the arriving air travelers at PBIA were Donna and Michael Marder of Connecticut.

"We decided we had enough of the cold weather," Michael Marder said.

The couple said they will be looking to buy a house in St. Lucie County during their visit.

"We're always concerned, but since we had the vaccine, we felt safe traveling," Michael Marder said.

Glenn Jergensen, Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council
Glenn Jergensen with the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council is encouraged by the bump in revenue for the county as tourism increases.

Optimism about tourism is something Glenn Jergensen with the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council hasn't felt in a year.

Palm Beach County tourism officials said spring break travel has been higher than expected with hotels now around 70 percent occupied and tourism taxes on the upswing.

"We planned around between $4 to $5 million worth of collections. Normally they'd be around $6, $7, $8 [million] per month, but that's a good thing," Jergensen said.

Some travelers at PBIA on Monday said they are still concerned about COVID-19, but believe flying feels safer. Also, some said they were glad to come to Florida and not face the harsher restrictions in their state.

"It's been great to come to a state that is mindful of wearing masks and taking precautions to help mitigate it, but also allows us to still do life," said David Conrady of Nashville.

The CDC continues to advise against non-essential travel even if you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.