Memphis airport sees boost in travel as slow churn to ‘normalcy’ continues amid pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This weekend is expected to be the largest travel weekend of the year, giving millions a much-needed break or vacation.

In Memphis, airport administrators believed they will get a boost of some 40,000 travelers, much more than the number seen on the same weekend last year, another sign of the slow return to normalcy.

At the Memphis International Airport, there was still a rush of travelers heading to destinations all over the country for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Friday, the Transportation Security Administration reported a record 1.96 million people passing through checkpoints, the highest one-day total since the pandemic crippled travel.

“I feel pretty safe personally,” said Jayla Cooper, who was flying home to Houston.

Memphis airport officials expected close to 40,000 passengers through Tuesday, according to the airport’s website, significantly fewer than the number screened on Memorial Day weekend 2019, but still close to four times the number of passengers screened on Memorial Day weekend 2020.

“It’s a little bit better now,” said Donna Enriquez, traveling with her older relatives to Orlando.

She said full vaccinations make flying this weekend easier.

“There are some concerns, but since we feel like the second COVID-19 shot is in effect, we feel pretty good,” she said.

Tracy Seymour, traveling to the same location, also with relatives, said the vaccine gave her confidence in traveling, as well.

“I’m really not worried about it … being vaccinated, I feel comfortable,” Seymour said.

COVID-19 restrictions remained in place at the airport.

“I feel like the airlines are taking the necessary precautions to try to keep everybody safe,” Cooper said.