Returning travelers pack flights, make RDU the busiest since COVID-19 began


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — RDU Airport was a very busy place Monday – in fact, it was the busiest it’s been in a while since the pandemic hit.

A combination of vaccinations and frustration caused the crowds in America’s airports this Independence Day weekend.

People hadn’t been able to really get out and move about the country, so this weekend was the first good chance for many.

On Friday 36,000 people used RDU to fly, according to the airport authority. And all those fliers had to get back home Monday making aircraft pretty congested for a lot of travelers.

“It was pretty full, said traveler Kendra Martin-Cobb. “I was pretty shocked by that.”

Nationwide it’s estimated 2.2 million people took to the skies.

Traveler Molly Payne said her aircraft to and from RDU this weekend was “very crowded.”

When officials say things like a record number of travelers — you have to put that in perspective.

“To be honest, it’s less busy than Thanksgiving,” said traveler J.Paul Reasoner. “We came from Philly and I honestly thought that airport was dead. It was not busy at all. It was way better than Thanksgiving.”

Last Friday, disruptions hit American and Southwest Airlines hard —forcing the two carriers to cancel between 4 and 5 percent of all flights and delay more than 1,200 flights each.

However, sometimes it’s not the airlines that cause problems with a travel schedule.

“We missed it (the flight) by five minutes so we had to rebook the flight,” said Dontre Burke’s. “It was like $350 for a one-way ticket to New York.”

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