Bowman’s Travel Brief: Scenes From a Semi-Crowded Airport

My first trip of 2021 is off to quite an interesting start. I’m traveling to Cancun, Mexico for the WTTC Global Summit held at Moon Palace Resort. It will be the first in-person global travel event since the pandemic began.

I arrived at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport just before 8 a.m. on Saturday to find bigger crowds than I expected.

It’s early and I’m flying internationally, so I wasn’t anticipating that many people but boy was I wrong.

Sure, it’s the weekend and crowds are typically higher these days, but we are still in a pandemic, so I was surprised when I approached the TSA security line.

The last two times I traveled here it was nearly a ghost town. I was literally the only person to walk through the TSA line at 8 a.m. just over six months ago.

Waiting in line felt like old times. It may have been the only time in my life I was pleased to wait in a slow-moving line.

Travel is coming back.

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The Atlanta, Georgia airport had long been the world’s busiest airport, however, it lost that moniker after 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have seen this airport insanely crowded so many times. To see it just semi-crowded now after a few times of it being nearly empty was a welcome sight.

It brought me great joy to see full families together walking to their gate, from little kids to grandparents as well.

However, some of that gleam faded away as people failed to properly follow the restrictions in place during the era of COVID-19.

People still ignore the rules of social distancing and covering their mouth and nose while wearing a face mask. I even saw a man remove his mask to cough into his hand!

Some things will never change though, as the “gate lice” – aka all the people hovering near the gate to board the plane – were still doing what they always do.

Arriving in Cancun I was welcomed with even more crowds, as the customs lines and transfer car pick up area felt like the pre-pandemic days. I had a much harder time finding my driver this trip compared to the last.

I had to stop for a moment and just soak it all in – the yelling of “taxi” coming from so many different directions, the confused look from travelers trying to find their transfer ride and the bar outside the terminal being packed.

Travel is on the way up and even though the semi-crowded airport will eventually turn into an extremely crowded airport, I can’t wait for it.

Where is your next vacation? Let me know on Twitter and Instagram: @EricBowman_

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