PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Vaccinations appear to be bringing travelers back to the skies, but many are still hesitant to pack into planes. Eyewitness News went to Philadelphia International Airport to check out changes and take a look back at how the pandemic nearly grounded air travel.
As a steady stream of travelers lined up at the TSA gate here at the Philadelphia airport on Monday, airport officials are working tirelessly behind the scenes to attract passengers.READ MORE: Fall Full-Capacity Concerts, Xfinity Live! Preparing To Reopen Has Philadelphia's Stadium District Buzzing With Energy
“Travel can be safe,” Philadelphia International Airport spokesperson Florence Brown said.
But it could take several years to see get back passenger levels as sky-high as before COVID.
“To prepare for a possible outbreak, airport officials say they’re using a new powerful disinfectant,” Eyewitness News reported a year ago.
That was on March 7 of last year. At the time, Pennsylvania had only four presumptive COVID cases. Then about a week later, the economy began to shutdown.
Days after that made headlines, Philadelphia leaders announced a citywide stay-at-home order causing Philly International to come to a crawl.
It was a stark contrast to the year before.READ MORE: Tolls Increasing Sunday On 8 Delaware River Crossings Connecting Pennsylvania, New Jersey
PHL saw a record number of people flying in 2019, including 2.7 million passengers in March alone.
But in March 2020, the airport saw less than half of that, and March this year is projected to stand at just over 600,000 passengers.
“Passengers returning to the terminals is not expected to happen for another three to five years,” Brown said.
But she also said that to get passengers back sooner, PHL has discounted parking at its garages. The airport also has a COVID testing center.
And if you’re hungry waiting for your flight at the airport…
“We can really encourage the use of OrderAtPHL.com, because that allows you to order food on your mobile device and have it delivered directly to your gate so you don’t have to wait in line, you don’t have to be in crowds,” Brown said.MORE NEWS: Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate Race Raises Simmering Divisions Inside Party
And PHL has new beach destinations rolling out this spring, including Daytona Beach and Salt Lake City.