CLEVELAND, Ohio – Florida has always been a top spot for Cleveland travelers, but never as much as it was early this year.
Five of the top 10 destination airports for Cleveland travelers were in Florida in early 2021, including the top three – Orlando, Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
At the same time, Northeast Ohio travelers avoided big-city destinations, including New York, Boston and Chicago.
The DOT tracks passenger traffic from U.S. airports, and it’s clear the coronavirus pandemic had a major impact on travel choices in early 2021. Leisure destinations were far more popular than more business-oriented cities.
The New York City metro area, including Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports, was the top destination for Clevelanders during the first quarter of 2019. Two years later, during the first quarter of 2021, New York had dropped to the 10th most popular destination. (Data from the first quarter of 2021 is the most recent available.)
What was No. 1? The Miami metro area, which includes both Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports.
One thing to keep in mind: Air travel, overall, from Cleveland and throughout the world, was still down dramatically during this time period, by more than 50% from two years earlier, according to federal data.
Here’s a look at the top 10 destination airports from Cleveland during the first quarter of 2019, compared to 2021:
Top 10 destination airports from CLE, first quarter 2021 compared to first quarter 2019
1. Orlando, 482 passengers per day on average (ranked first in 2019)
2. Fort Myers, 480, (sixth in 2019)
3. Fort Lauderdale, 476 (second in 2019)
4. Atlanta, 387 (fourth in 2019)
5. Phoenix, 327 (fifth in 2019)
6. Tampa, 316 (12th in 2019)
7. Las Vegas, 281 (third in 2019)
8. Los Angeles, 264 (seventh in 2019)
9. Denver, 259 (11th in 2019)
10. Miami, 197 (17th in 2019)
Not listed: Chicago O’Hare (No. 8 in 2019), New York LaGuardia (No. 9 in 2019) and Boston (No. 10 in 2019).
Top 10 metro areas (may include more than one airport), first quarter 2021 compared to first quarter 2019
1. Miami/Fort Lauderdale, 673 passengers per day on average, (second in 2019)
2. Orlando, 482 passengers per day, (third in 2019)
3. Fort Myers, 480 (ninth in 2019)
4. Atlanta, 387 (seventh in 2019)
5. Tampa, 328 (12th in 2019)
6. Phoenix, 327 (eighth in 2019)
7. Los Angeles, 313 (fifth in 2019)
8. Las Vegas, 281 (sixth in 2019)
9. Denver, 259 (13th in 2019)
10. New York, 197 (first in 2019)
Not listed: Chicago (No. 4 in 2019), Boston (No. 10 in 2019).
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