Pent-up travel demand sparks spring break boom at SFO

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KGO) -- By some estimates, 4 out of 10 Americans have indicated they're going to travel over spring break. And many of them are flying again, turning airport terminals into busy places, at least for a few weeks.

San Francisco International's Terminal 3 is coming back to life. United, the airport's largest carrier, handled 110,000 spring break flyers last weekend. It's expecting to carry 18 million passengers system-wide from mid-March until the end of April.

"How's it going?" asked ABC7's David Louie.

"Busy, very busy. Good, easy," said Melanee Montalvo, accompanied by family from Warrenton, VA.

"Any reservations about being around people or flying?" asked Louie.

"No, no," she responded without hesitation.

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The Hanke family from San Mateo hasn't flown anywhere for a year.

"Where are you off to?" we asked son Cole, a student at Hillsdale High School wearing a Giants cap.
"We're going to spring training in Arizona," he said. "Been looking forward to this for a long time. Never been to spring training."

A new app-based baggage check-in system is helping customers bypass kiosks. They can take their bags directly to a drop-off point and head to the security checkpoint.

"This will be a great way for us to pressure test what's going to happen in the summer, which is one of our busiest times to travel throughout the year," said United spokesperson Maddie King. "We're happy to see customers come back, and we're happy to get them on their way."

The airline realizes some people haven't flown for a long time, so making the terminal check-in process faster and stress-free will help. As more people fly again, United has been doing regular hiring events, including one today, to add customer service representatives and ramp staff.

At SFO, they've hired 300 people in the past three months. That's on top of bringing in personnel from the airline's other hubs to fill in.For those who might be traveling this summer rather than for spring break, there's some good news ahead. United will be adding about 30 more flights during the summer season, compared to 200 flights a day now, including a second flight to London, one to Amsterdam and increased service between SFO and Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and Seattle.

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