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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines International Airport gears up for a busy summer travel season

Travel is far exceeding levels during the pandemic, but still falls short of 2019 numbers.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Travel across the country and in Iowa is on the rise.

Knoxville resident Christine Meyers just got back from a trip visiting her family in Florida.

"I think that people are just feeling more secure, and they're just can't wait to get out and go somewhere," said Meyers as she picked up her luggage at Des Moines International Airport on Friday.

While Meyers has traveled a few times during the pandemic, Houston resident Shelley Von Dielingen who's visiting Iowa for a special surprise party is just now taking to the skies.

"We just wanted to be cautious. Really," she said.

At Des Moines International Airport, the number of passengers is climbing to 60% of pre-pandemic levels. In anticipation of getting back to normal, the airport will offer the most direct flights it's ever offered by summer.

"July's schedule has 25 non-stop destinations, which is the most ever out of our history to have on one month schedule. So we are seeing more folks coming back to the terminal and the airlines are responding," said Kayla Kovarna, spokesperson for the airport.

Locally, big events are bringing in people from out of town like skater Patrick Praman, who is in town for the Dew Tour later this summer.

"This is the first conference in a year. So it's like, kind of getting back into it. But yeah, it's been a year since like, I've traveled for a contest," Praman said.

So, where are Iowans flying?  According to travel experts, they're headed for warm weather domestic destinations where there's little risk of getting stuck in quarantine.

"Hawaii is definitely popular. That's really unusual because usually, Hawaii is too expensive for people to consider...but now they're considering it because it's the only place that they can really go without providing that negative test," said Jody Valentine, owner of Allied Travel, a travel agency in Des Moines.

What should travelers keep in mind if they are planning a summer trip?  Valentine recommends a few things:

  1. Be flexible with your plans
  2. Consider travel insurance (and make sure to read the fine print)
  3. Use a travel agent especially if you're flying internationally.

AAA is also recommending that if you want to travel this summer, start planning now.

"Honestly, if you have plans to travel the summer, you should definitely be looking ahead and starting now because we are seeing an uptick in people who are making those plans," said Meredith Mitts, spokesperson for AAA.

In another sign that things are getting back to normal, the airport is hosting a job fair on Tuesday, May 25. It will be hiring for several positions with the various agencies and companies that operate out of the airport.

Watch: Travel anxiety has some hesitant to book trips post COVID pandemic 

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