MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Are you going on a trip this Memorial Day weekend? Travel predictions are up significantly over last year as vaccination rates increase and pandemic restrictions ease.

More than 660,000 passengers are expected at Miami International Airport during the Memorial Day holiday weekend from May 27 through June 1, for a daily average of 110,000 travelers, which would make it the busiest travel period at the airport since the pandemic began.

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On Thursday the TSA processed about 1.8 million passengers, up dramatically from 321,000 last year.

Jack Varela, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench “The most important thing is to arrive 2 hours early for domestic flights and 3 hours early for international flights. Check the TSA website at TSA.COM for what the limits are for liquid and other items. Remember that you have to wear a mask at all times inside the airport. Check-in online and make sure you have easily removable shoes for the metal detectors and avoid laces. Everything will go much smoother.”

Passengers are heeding the advice.

“I have been vaccinated and I have all my documents in order and I am ready to go,” said Hayley Marks who was on her way to Aruba.

“I am excited to finally be doing international travel. I am a health care professional and I need a break from work. I am eager for a break. My advice is just have all your documents in order and everything will go smoothly.”

“At the airport, there’s often a big wait in the lines. It may be because of all the extra protocols being taken,” said passenger Sindy Kelsick.

Passenger Lilly Goti said, “It’s nice to be traveling again and I was excited about this and this weekend.”

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“I was amazed by these crowds. This was really something that I did not expect,” said traveler Robinson Lopez who was headed to Washington, D.C.

“I came here plenty early from the Keys as I am headed to the Bahamas and did not want to take any chances. I am so glad I got here early,” said Mark Rackley.

Cindy Thauw and Lilly Goti we’re flying from Miami to Mexico. “It is nice to see crowds again. We are just excited,” said Thauw. Goti said, “I think it is nice to see everyone up and moving again.”

Passenger Jeff Ugalde said, “Just continue social distancing and be careful and have fun.”

Below are some tips to fly safe and smart at MIA this weekend:

  • Departing passengers should arrive at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight to allow enough time for adjustments to the airline check-in and security checkpoint screening process.
  • Passengers are encouraged to check in online before arriving at MIA.
  • To expedite screening at the TSA checkpoints, wear easily removable shoes, follow the 3-1-1 rule for liquids or gels in their carry-on, and avoid accessories that resemble weapons. More tips and information are available at the TSA website.
  • On-site COVID-19 testing at Miami International Airport is now available to passengers, employees, and visitors at two convenient locations.
  • A federally-supported COVID-19 vaccination site at MIA is providing free one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to all individuals 18 and older from May 27 to May 28, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Walk-ups are accepted with no appointment or pre-registration necessary.
  • Ordering food and beverages is now as safe and easy as click, grab and go with MIA2GO, the airport’s new contactless mobile platform that puts customers in the fly-through lane to quickly browse menus, order, and pay before making their pick-up at restaurants throughout the airport.
  • MIA passengers now have a personal travel assistant available around the clock, ready to tell them the fastest checkpoint for their flight and how to get there. Meet the MIA QueueAnalyzer – the latest in passenger flow management technology – available online now for real-time updates on security checkpoint wait times via the airport’s mobile app and website.

The holiday weekend arrives as Florida’s number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 are declining. The state added 2,338 coronavirus cases on Thursday, rising the cumulative total to 2,318,480. Also, the state reported that through Wednesday 10,169,597 people — or about 48% — of Floridians have received at least one vaccination shot, including 8,139,018, or 38%, who have completed their shot regimens.

On South Beach, planes will also be in the air on Saturday for the Hyundai Air and Sea show. More than 400 Miami Beach officers will be working 12-hour shifts to help out with the crowds and traffic.

Officer Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for Miami Beach Police, reminds you that “We are encouraging people to park in the outside garages and take trolleys to the site venue.”

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Prohibited on the Beach are alcohol, inflatable devices, tents, tables, loud music, coolers and glass containers.

Peter D'Oench