Memorial Day weekend kicks off ‘very busy summer travel season’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Memorial Day weekend is the kick-off to the start of what will be a “very busy summer travel season,” according to officials at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

People flying to their vacation destinations are seeing massive delays. Nearly 2.5 million Americans are boarding planes this weekend — almost six times more than last year — as the TSA warns passengers to be ready for long lines at security.

On Friday, there was a steady stream of crowds all day at Charlotte-Douglas, one of the country’s busiest airports. Torrena Brown was among them and can’t wait to get to Florida.

“I’m going to get to see my grandbaby for the first time,” said Brown. “I’m so excited I’m shaking. I’ve seen him on FaceTime and everything but I haven’t seen him, or my son, since before COVID. So it’s a wonderful experience.”

Like many people, Brown hasn’t seen her family in over a year. Her two sons served in the Armed Forces so she knows the importance of this weekend.

“It means freedom,” she said. “It means everything to me.”

Now fully vaccinated, she and millions of others are ready to return to normal.

“Going to Austin, Texas,” said Jeff Hachmann. “A little bit of work, a little bit of fun.”

“I think everyone’s ready for things to get back to normal now,” said Kendall Hooks, as he waited in the TSA line with his family. “It’s been a crazy year and a half but it looks like things are going in the right direction.”

American Airlines increased its schedule by 134 percent to handle the increased number of air travelers. Upwards of 26,000 passengers will fly out of the airport every day this weekend in addition to the 100,000 daily connecting passengers. The busiest days will be Friday and Memorial Day.

The most popular destination among people FOX 46 spoke with is Florida.

“I’m excited,” said Chris Renzi, a former Marine. “I’m happy that we’re finally getting back on track here.”

Renzi is headed to Florida to see family. He knows firsthand that Memorial Day goes beyond beaches and barbeque. He wears a bracelet on his wrist that reminds his veterans are committing suicide every day.

“In loving memory of all our fallen heroes,” it reads. “May they live on forever.”

“Everyone for the last 240-some-odd years whose fallen in combat, or even after combat at home, we have to think about that,” he said. “You should think about it all year round but definitely this weekend.”

Most of the flights on Friday were on time but some were delayed.

With all of the extra flights, officials say parking is going to be in high demand. Anyone traveling to the airport is urged to book their parking spot online ahead of time.

To pre-book parking: cltairport.com/parking For drive-up parking call (704) 359-5555 to hear the latest parking conditions or click here.

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