Thanksgiving air travel didn’t hit record highs in 2019, but it was close. An estimated 2.3 million people passed through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints on Wednesday – more travelers than on any other day during the pandemic.
That number was more than double the Wednesday before Thanksgiving last year. In total this year there were about 88 percent travelers arriving on the same Wednesday in 2019.
Social media has been buzzing with nearly identical complaints about the longest airport queues people have encountered in recent years, and surprise that the queues were so short, which reinforces the idea that the pandemic remains unpredictable.
Among those travelers who get the thrill of visiting family this Thanksgiving was San Diego’s Katie Thurston, known to some as the reality show’s bachelorette party for season 17.
“Going back to something that seems normal makes me feel so emotional,” she said in a telephone interview after tweeting about her tearful reaction to landing in Seattle to visit her mother and sister and meet with her for the first time. his little niece.
Hundreds of airport catering workers staged a picket Wednesday at San Francisco International Airport over a health dispute. But despite concerns from some passengers and warnings from the Southwest Airlines pilots union in August, there were no flight attendant or pilot strikes on Wednesday.
Amid fears that passengers will abuse flight attendants and engage in fights over masks – a problem throughout the pandemic – Attorney General Merrick B. Garland urged federal attorneys to prioritize prosecuting passengers who commit assaults or other crimes on board.
According to a TSA official, the busiest days for air travel during Thanksgiving are generally the Tuesday and Wednesday before the holiday and the Sunday after.
United said the airline expects Sunday after Thanksgiving to be its busiest day since the pandemic began. That said, it seemed that the day was unlikely to surpass pre-pandemic travel rates overall, given how unusual this weekend two years ago was. More people flew out on the Sunday following Thanksgiving in 2019, according to TSA checkpoints than ever in the agency’s 20-year history.
Plus, travelers are unlikely to experience delays due to weather conditions when trying to return home.
“Sunday is pretty quiet in most of the country,” said Lara Pagano, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
However, Becky Esquivel, a TSA officer at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, urged people to arrive at least two hours before boarding their return flight just in case.