Despite looming challenges, air travel is almost back to pre-COVID levels
United Express plane photo from when service started at the Mason City Municipal Airport

DES MOINES — Despite persistent flight staff shortages and fewer flights, Fourth of July holiday air travel is up, according to AAA-Iowa spokeswoman Meredith Mitts. 

 “Our air travel volumes are actually expected to rise about 25% from last year,” Mitts says, “so this is the second-largest yearly increase in more than a decade.”

Travelers have long been encouraged to “pack patience” and be flexible when flying, but thousands of delays and cancellations this year are testing their mettle. Still, Mitts says air travel in the U-S is almost back to pre-pandemic levels.   Mitts says, “People are more comfortable traveling and able to feel comfortable taking airplanes and that’s really exciting as we’re looking forward into the summer holiday travel season.”

Despite gasoline prices being at or near record highs, motor vehicle travel for the holiday weekend is expected to be at the highest level on record. The AAA forecast predicts nearly 48 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday, and 42 million will travel by motor vehicle. Iowa’s average price for gas is now $4.61 a gallon, up from $2.96 a year ago but well below the current national average of $4.84.