Updated: July 05, 2021 11:06 PM
Created: July 05, 2021 10:43 PM
Travelers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport shared optimism as the Fourth of July holiday weekend wrapped up.
“I think people are pretty excited to be able to get back to doing what they used to do,” said Greg Tucker, a business traveler from Waconia. “I know I’ve enjoyed being able to get back on the road and see some of my colleagues, in some cases for the first time.”
This holiday weekend is expected to be the second-highest Independence Day travel weekend on record, according to AAA. MSP has already seen steady growth over the last several months.
“I feel good,” said Habib Amini, who flew in from Florida. “Things are back to normal, people are traveling.”
In May, passenger boardings at MSP grew to 62% of pre-pandemic levels. The airport hasn’t released June travel numbers yet but during that month, more than 30,000 passengers were screened through security checkpoints in a single day for the first time since the pandemic began.
“It was my first time on a plane since COVID, and it was okay,” said Susan Bosher, who traveled with Amini. “It was really easy to get back into the way things used to be."
A line of people gathered outside of baggage claim to get an Uber or Lyft on Monday. Each arrival has been encouraging to those who drive for ride-sharing services.
“It’s going to be busy tonight,” said Abdi Liban, who drives for both Uber and Lyft. “We’re feeling excited.”
He told us it’s a stark contrast from this time last year, when rides were hard to come by
“You may get one or two [per day] during the pandemic,” he said.
According to Liban, they’ve now reached 2019 levels with some driving 30 to 50 routes per day.
“It's totally different,” said Liban. “It's totally busy, things are picking up.”
More flight routes are becoming available at MSP as each month passes. In July 2020, there were 249 average daily departures. By June 2021, that reached 404. This month, average daily departures are expected to reach 421.
Delta Air Lines is resuming non-stop flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on July 7, the ninth international route returning since the start of the pandemic.
“We’re going to Reykjavik,” said Aaron Olson-Reiners, who was traveling with his wife Annie.
It’s a trip they’ve been waiting to take for 12 years.
“It’s so fun. Ever since I met him, he's only ever talked about traveling to Iceland," said Annie Olson-Reiners. "I love international travel.”
She surprised her husband with tickets as the country opened up. The trip follows a year of sacrifice.
“We have not traveled, we didn't see our parents, we were really careful,” said Annie.
“It’s still a little weird to be back to something that kind of looks normal but very fortunate and lucky too, very happy,” said Aaron.
They told KSTP, becoming vaccinated helped make the trip possible.
“It is joyful to travel”, said Annie. “I’ve already been looking to see if there are flights to other places.”
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