Airport traffic up from last year, but not quite to pre-pandemic levels

Nov 6, 2021, 12:13 PM

A Delta flight takes off from the Salt Lake City International Airport on a cloudless day on Nov. 5...

A Delta flight takes off from the Salt Lake City International Airport on a cloudless day on Nov. 5, 2021 (Nick Wyatt, KSL Newsradio)

(Nick Wyatt, KSL Newsradio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Airport traffic is up from last year. The number of flights in the skies in August was about 50% higher than the same month last year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. But, travel is not yet back to where it was before the pandemic. 

A federal report shows the number of flights in August was 84% of the same period in 2019. A total of 592,760 took off that month, whereas 704,553 operated in August 2019. It’s a big jump from last year, however. There were only 394,143 flights in August 2020. 

Holly waited at the Salt Lake City International Airport to pick up her sister Friday morning. She says her whole family is flying more these days. 

“I was here yesterday, I dropped my daughter off. And, I was here last week with my son. Everybody’s traveling,” she says.

She and her husband own a second home in Phoenix, Arizona, but she says they prefer to drive. 

“You need to be here at least two hours in advance….My husband flew into Phoenix the last time, I just drove. He literally circled the airport and it was awful. It took him six and a half hours for an hour-long flight,” Holly explains. 

For their getaways, flying is simply too much hassle. 

Read more: American Airlines cancels more flights; total nears 2,300

Meanwhile, Patrick flew into the Salt Lake airport Friday morning from Massachusetts. He feels like travel is not all that different from before the pandemic.

He says, “It’s been alright…I think people are very much relaxed right now.”

For him, it’s all the same except for the mask requirements inside airports and on flights. 

Read more: Dave & Dujanovic: Expert shares tips on navigating new SLC airport

Both disagree about the new airport facilities.

Holly is not a fan of the new airport. She says the required walking is a pain, especially for her daughter who just had hip surgery. She says after being dropped off Thursday, it took her daughter 22 minutes to walk (with crutches) to her gate. 

Patrick thinks Salt Lake City International is much nicer than what he’s used to back home. The extra walking some people complain about isn’t a bother for him. 

With Thanksgiving around the corner, one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, The Vacationer reports only about 10% of people plan to fly to their destinations. Nearly 68% plan to drive. 


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Airport traffic up from last year, but not quite to pre-pandemic levels