OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – A major spike in air travel expected this holiday weekend — Bay Area airports were busy Friday as people flocked to their destinations.

This time last year airports were quiet but not this year. This holiday is expected to be the 2nd busiest July 4th ever as people take to the skies.

“I’m flying up on Southwest up to Tahoe for the weekend 4th of July it’s great to be out so great,” Ernest Brown said. 

“’I’m going to Long Beach, California. I’m going to have some fun. I’ve been up here working so I’m going to go have some fun,” a traveler said.

A much-needed getaway for both of these travelers. Many at Oakland International Airport taking advantage of the holiday weekend as a chance to get out of the Bay Area after being cooped up for much of the pandemic.

That’s why AAA says so many are heading to the gates this year. Predicting 3.5 million people are planning to jet off, air travel this Independence Day will hit 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels nationwide.

Oakland Airport experienced a similar bump.

“We are expecting approximately three times more passenger volume than Independence Day 2020,” Robert Bernardo, Oakland International Airport spokesperson, said. “We’ve been planning for this for months now and just to give you an idea when you look at April, this past April to April during the pandemic, we are about six times more than the volume that we had in April during the pandemic.”

Newlyweds Sheila and Rafi Diaz witnessing the transformation in air traffic travel. They took to the skies several months ago.

“It was great because nobody was here but now we’re back in business so we’re excited about that,” Sheila said. 

Meanwhile, Malissa Nunes is heading to Colorado this holiday weekend, more than just a break she says it’s offering her a sense of normalcy.

“We’ve been vaccinated since February so we’re just eager to get back to the flying activity once every month if we can,” Nunes said. 

Just a reminder, while the CDC is not requiring masks for fully vaccinated people – masks are still required at airports and on planes.