TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As summer approaches and restrictions are slowly lifted, many are wondering whether to keep their summer travel plans, and if it will be safe to fly.
At Tampa International Airport, they are seeing around 200 flights a day, both arrivals and departures. That is compared to around 500 a day this time last year. They are also seeing fewer passengers, averaging around 7,000-8,000 daily now, compared to 70-80,000 daily in 2019, according to spokesperson Emily Nipps.
“You’re going to see less people hanging around because we’re asking people not to come in the airport unless they have a ticket. So it’s still pretty empty in the airport, but we’re starting to see traffic pick up,” said Nipps.
At St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, they reported only 5,799 passengers in April due to COVID-19. PIE reported a 97% loss in passenger traffic.
The lower number of passengers does not mean you’ll experience an empty flight because airlines are reducing the amount of flights.
Photos circulating on social media have shown numerous packed flights. The backlash has prompted several airlines to adopt no middle seat policies, and/or 60-70% capacity limits.
Experts recommend if you do plan to fly, to make sure to bring along hand sanitizer, wipes, and wear a mask.
“It’s still important to practice those principles of wearing a mask, and washing our hands and keeping safe. Some airlines say they’re going to leave the middle seat empty, which isn’t quite 6 feet but at least it’s spread out. If you have another mode of travel I’m probably gonna take that, or delays nonessential trips if I can,” said Dr. Paul Nando, Chief Medical Officer with TGH Urgent Care.
“Every decision we make has a risk and benefits and it depends on your current medical conditions. If you’re over 65 or do you have heart disease, or COPD, or anything that dropped your immune system, I don’t know if I’d recommend climate right now for nonessential travel. If you can drive that’s the safest place.”
Dr. Nando said if you have to fly make sure to wear a mask, and also suggested contacting the airline to verify their social distancing procedures.