NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The day before Christmas Eve is known as one of the busiest travel days of the year. Airport officials say it could be a record breaking holiday season for travelers passing through airports even as numbers of new COVID-19 cases are up with the Omicron variant.
Millions of Americans are taking to the skies to reach their Christmas destination this year, some for the first time since the pandemic began. Travelers say they are just happy to be back in action.
“Great,” says Jack Goldburg who is traveling to Florida for Christmas. “I feel good, healthy – I think things look pretty crowded, not too bad actually.”
Most are headed home for the holidays to spend Christmas and the New Year with family and friends.
“Get tested, know you’re negative, wear your mask,” says Goldburg. “If you have some symptoms you know you need to stay home. But don’t be scared, if you feel good you should be fine.”
With air travel expected to triple from the same time frame last year, Charleston International Airport officials are urging patience for passengers.
“Be patient though with our folks,” says Charleston International Executive Director Elliott Summey. “This time of year, our TSA agents and our folks, they get worn out.”
Passengers are planning for delays while making sure to check the list of needed things twice. At Charleston International, boarding passes and masks are at the top of the list.
“Travel can be stressful you know remembering your bags, remembering your boarding pass, remembering your kids and if you forget your mask, we’re going to give you one,” says Summey.
The number of passengers from check-in to TSA is expected to vary leading up to Christmas Day but one thing that won’t for passengers is the need to check for COVID-19 symptoms and wearing a mask. Lowcountry doctors are urging passengers to be cautious.
“Covering your nose as you sneeze, if you are trying not to be around people who are sick and washing your hands,” says Dr. David Crook, a Physician at Trident Medical Center.
Millions have already started traveling to their destinations and with COVID-19 cases up, Dr. Crook recommends being vigilant both before and after returning home from your trip.
“Getting a COVID-19 test is recommended especially as you return and so you don’t spread it to your coworkers or your students,” says Dr. Crook.
The excitement to celebrate the holidays being felt by many who might are returning to their families for possibly the first time in two years while still remaining cautious to stay healthy.
“Just follow the rules and do what you need to do,” says Linda, a traveler passing through Charleston International.
“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everybody,” says Goldburg.
Airport officials warn parking at Charleston International is limited at this point. They say if you’re still planning to fly for Christmas to find a ride to the airport if possible. If you’re planning to take Christmas gifts on your trip, officials remind passengers to make sure they are unwrapped.