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Airlines hopeful new CDC guidelines will be incentive to get COVID-19 vaccine

As millions of people become eligible and take the COVID-19 vaccine, airlines are hopeful the CDC's softer restrictions will be an incentive to get the shot.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Health officials across the Carolinas are keeping an eye on the recent travel rush that's happening across the country as millions of Americans head out for spring break

According to the Transportation Security Administrations, the TSA screened 1,580,785 passengers on April 2, compared to the 129,763 travelers the same day a year ago during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it was still far lower than the more than nearly 2.5 million travelers on the same day in 2019, prior to the pandemic. 

Charlotte Douglas is averaging around 17,000 daily originating passengers going through checkpoints, with a high of 25,232 people screened on April 2. For comparison, 2,060 passengers went through checkpoints on the same day last year in 2020. 

Huge crowds were seen at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, even before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Those new guidelines gave the green light to fully vaccinated Americans to safely fly, as long as they follow a few precautions, such as wear masks in public spaces and practice social distancing. 

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At Charlotte Douglas, hundreds of people were preparing to board their flights Monday for vacation. Their destinations included Florida and California during what many industry experts believe will be the busiest travel week in the U.S. since the pandemic began.

"You see, I'm dressed for Florida," one man said. "I'm excited."

Another group of about eight were also flying to Florida for a spring break trip with friends. 

The CDC says fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested for COVID-19 before or after air travel. Those people also don't need to quarantine for travel, but as it stands now, that's less than 80% of Americans who have taken the shot, as it takes two weeks for someone to become fully vaccinated for the virus. 

RELATED: Do the new CDC travel guidelines let vaccinated people travel?

Airlines are hoping these new rules are an incentive for more people to get vaccinated before making vacation plans. 

"I think that's a great way to encourage people to get it," a woman at the airport said. "I think if people are vaccinated, that's great."

Carol McKee, the owner of McKee Travel, said she is seeing demand for domestic trips soar. 

“Domestically, there’s been a ton of people sort of exploring their own backyard, which has been interesting to see," McKee said, "and definitely availability for the summer domestically is getting really tight already.”

McKee said she expects the trend to continue into 2022 and beyond. 

“Bookings for 2022 are through the roof right now and have been actually the last couple of months since about the time when the vaccine was approved," she added. 

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.

If people have travel plans booked in the future, McKee said she is starting to see destinations and experiences start to require the vaccine for travelers. 

"If you've been holding back on getting the vaccine for whatever reason, if you want to travel, now we're in the future," McKee said. "Proving that you are fully vaccinated is probably going to be the only way you can travel in many instances."

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.

RELATED: Delta cancels over 100 flights as pandemic travel soars