Travel industry starts to take off again as more Americans get vaccinated

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As more and more Americans get vaccinated, the itch to jet off someplace exotic is also returning.

"The first of many, I hope, said Joe Barnes, as he travels to Liberia.

The airlines, struggling for over a year now, are more than happy to heed the call, including United, who announced a summer schedule expansion Monday.

"We're looking at where demand is, where Americans can go," said Patrick Quayle, VP of Internal Network for United Airlines. "It's no surprise that we picked Croatia. We picked Greece. And we picked Iceland. Three countries that have said if you're vaccinated, you can show proof of vaccine, you're welcome to come in our county and you don't have to quarantine."

While no standard vaccination passport has been agreed upon by the travel industry, individual airlines are coming up with their own portals to allow travelers to upload their testing and vaccination documents.

RELATED: Vaccine passports: Some airlines are using them, expert says these other large entities may be next

"A unified approach by the United States government and foreign governments would be by far the best, because that way it's a one system fits all approach," Quayle said.

However, it's not just international travel, or even air travel, that people are searching for as they dream up their summer getaways.

"We're noticing that there has been an increase in online bookings, whether to rent a car or stay at a hotel," said Molly Hart with AAA. "What we're seeing for the summer is, people are still going to stick to domestic travel and doing those road trips. The destinations people are looking at are Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, Key West, [and] Las Vegas."

ALSO SEE: Experts warn fake vaccination cards could prolong pandemic, FBI categorizes them as crime

While people want to travel and are feeling safer in doing so, socially distanced vacations are expected to remain popular for some time to come.

"Around the national parks continue to be highly searched," said Samuel Randall with Airbnb. "People are looking for listings that allow them to get out. Get some open air. A backyard to relax in."
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.