Myrtle Beach International Airport anticipates bump in holiday travel
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach International Airport says it’s seeing more people boarding flights this year compared to the 2019 holiday season.
Officials reported more than 19,000 people are booked for departing flights between Dec. 19-27. The airport says that’s nearly 2,000 more travelers compared to the same time period one year ago.
Airport officials said this represents a greater demand for people to fly this holiday season.
These numbers may come as a surprise, considering medical experts from DHEC and the CDC recommended people not travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials and professionals are asking people to not travel nor gather in larger group settings in an effort to prevent coronavirus transmission.
Local hospitals have echoed similar concerns, asking people to continue practicing safety measures while also reconsidering any holiday gatherings.
AAA says coronavirus concerns have put a big dent in many Christmas travel plans, projecting 34 million fewer people to travel in the coming days to see their loved ones.
AAA specialist Jenifer Moore said she predicts more families will consider driving to see their loved ones this holiday season instead of taking flights.
“Travelers can really control their environment [if they drive to their destination,” said Moore. “They can control where they go, [in case] they need to return home quickly. They don’t have to worry about changing their flight. They can just get back in the car and drive back home.”
But those concerns don’t appear to be stopping many people along the Grand Strand and Pee Dee Region from air travels this Christmas season. Our news team talked with people inside MYR. We asked if they’re concerned about either traveling or welcoming family members from the airport, during these times. Here a few of their responses:
“I know I’ve taken every precaution I possibly can, but I still have to live my life.”
“You got to take the safety precautions under advisement but at the same time, you got to share the season. It’s very important”
“It’s the same as traveling regularly. They do extra cleaning and precautions.”
Florence County resident Elizabeth Augustus picked up her son Ceasar after he arrived from a flight coming from Washington, D.C.
Augustus shared the importance of having her son air travel to be by her side.
“It means everything, I lost my husband four years,” she said. “All I have is my sons now. So it means everything for us to spend the holidays together.
Her son agreed.
“My mom is by herself,” said Ceasar. “Just to see my family, spend time [together]. It’s awesome. I have to do it. It’s not a choice.”
“You have to travel based on how you feel, your comfort zone,” said Elizabeth. “When I called my son and said baby you don’t have to come home because of what’s going on, he said mamma please, so I left it alone. He’s pretty comfortable in coming down. Come in, do the CDC guidelines. I think you’ll be alright.”
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