RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With less than a week to go before Christmas, travel is starting to ramp up and more people are flying by air than last year.

As travel increases, we are now facing a double whammy with COVID-19 — the delta variant is still active and the highly contagious omicron is surging.

Last year, millions of Americans canceled holiday travel plans during the pandemic. However, that attitude is changing this year.

Robert Davis didn’t want to alter his plans to come home to Raleigh for the holidays.

“I haven’t seen my family in two years,” he said.

The number of people traveling is approaching pre-pandemic levels with 109 million expected to leave home for the holidays. That is a 34 percent jump from last year.

That means more than six million people will be flying.

“I think the airlines are doing their best making sure you’re keeping your mask on,” said traveler Lisa Richards.

Health care experts are warning about holiday travel.

Their worry is not so much about the airline flights, but rather what will happen when people get to where they are going.

“Airplanes now require masking, so probably being on an airplane is a fairly safe place to be,” Dr. Francis Collins of the NIH told Face The Nation. “Think about how you’re going to get there and how you can make sure you’re safe along the way.”

“I am concerned to an extent that others are not concerned about it,” said traveler Chris Caldwell.

It’s also going to cost people more to travel this holiday season.

AAA travel service says:

  • Airline tickets have increased 5 percent
  • Hotel rates skyrocketed 36 percenter over last year this time
  • If you try to rent a car, you’ll have to shell out 20 percent more

Surveys indicate with vaccines more widely available, people have become increasingly confident about traveling by air.