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More Mainers are booking flights as the coronavirus rages on

Maine airport officials say passengers may soon be required to show proof they've been vaccinated to travel by plane.

BANGOR, Maine — More Mainers are traveling again, especially by air. 

Travel at the Portland International Jetport is down 50-60 percent from this time two years ago. Traffic at the Bangor Internal Airport was down to about 65 percent in February compared to the same month last year. Despite this, traffic is steadily picking up. 

According to the Transportation Security Administration, 1.5 million Americans traveled on a plane this past Sunday alone. This is the busiest travel day for the country's airports since March 12, 2020, when more than 1.7 million people were screened.

“A lot of people are coming in, they’ll sit at my desk and the first thing they’ll say is, ‘we’re vaccinated. We’re ready to travel,'” said Mary Ellen Lessard, travel agent at AAA Northern New England. 

Lessard added, many folks are looking for a getaway to Maine and state parks around the country. 

"I think people are just housebound and they want to get out. One of the important things too is all the airlines are removing their reissue fees. If [passengers] need to change [their flight] they can do so without a hefty fee,” said Lessard. 

Although there is no official mandate for showing proof you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine to travel here in the state, that might change.

“There are a lot of conversations happening within the industry on how do we streamline this so that a customer can enter their information once and have it work for all airlines,” said Portland International Jetport assistant director Zachary Sundquist.  

Airport officials are also stressing the importance of keeping up to date on travel restrictions.

“We’re directing people to the CDC and their travel alerts, and also to the particular state [passengers are] going to to get the information because it does change on a fairly regular basis," said Aimee Tibeaude, Bangor International Airport marketing and business development manager. 

Tibeaude also wants folks to remember that real ID compliance for Mainers starts in October. Those planning to fly that month or anytime after will need a real ID or passport.

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