CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The number of people taking to the skies is on the rise as pandemic restrictions ease. According to Charleston International Airport, only half as many people traveled through the airport in March 2020 than in March 2019. But, looking at March 2021, passenger numbers are up by 12%. April’s increase is expected to be even higher, but totals will not be released until early next month.

Here is a breakdown of passenger numbers reported by Charleston International.

2019 Passenger Numbers
2020 Passenger Numbers
2021 Passenger Numbers

One local travel agent, Allison Tolbert, says she’s swamped with travel booking requests as more people are ready to get out and about.

“Here in Charleston on the east coast, we have a lot of Caribbean. A lot of Mexico. People want a non-stop flight, they want to travel safely,” said Tolbert.

She says she believes people want to get out of the country but still remain in a certain comfort zone. In many cases that comfort zone means staying in the same time zone.

“Everyone is kind of feeling more comfortable about getting away and getting out of the house so we are seeing a surge,” explained Tolbert.

Part of that newfound comfort is from many people being fully vaccinated. Dr. Scott Curry of MUSC says having a vaccine is the most promising way to remain safe during travel.

“One of the nicest carats we can offer people that have been vaccinated is the ability to travel safely. We have good evidence that if you’ve been fully vaccinated meaning you’ve got both vaccines and two weeks behind you after that second dose, should you have gotten the Pfizer of Moderna vaccines, then you are substantially safer to travel than any point before then,” said Dr. Curry.

The rise in travel comes as The State Department has just released updated travel restrictions. The United States ‘Do Not Travel list has been expanded to 80% of the world. To read the updated restrictions, click here.