Passengers take off during busiest travel days of holiday season


SAN DIEGO — The Transportation Security Administration is warning passengers to be prepared for a busy holiday travel week that kicked off Sunday and will last until Jan. 3.

Passengers are hopping onto flights at near pre-pandemic levels for the holiday season. The busiest upcoming days locally are expected to be Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, according to the TSA. For those returning home, it is Jan. 2 and Jan. 3.

“We flew from Maui to here,” passenger Steven Rosenthal said. “We actually celebrated Christmas last night and now we’re flying now to go home back up to Sacramento.”

The busiest times will be 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. as TSA expects travel volume to hit 90% of pre-pandemic levels.

“It was busy, but if you fly at a certain time it’s very busy,” passenger Mary Bick said. “If you don’t, then it’s not, but it was huge when I came to leave.”

The TSA reminds passengers to arrive early to deal with the influx. Airport officials say if you are planning to bring a food item to your holiday party, make sure it is a solid item that can go through a checkpoint in a carry-on.

“Well, we did bring some Maui chocolates,” Rosenthal said. “There’s a chocolatier actually that we did bring back.”

According to the TSA, if it can spread, spill, pour or pump it, and if it is larger than 3.4 ounces, then it needs to be in a checked bag. TSA also recommends if you are bringing a gift on the plane, use gift bags instead of wrapping paper because the gift may need to be opened and checked by agents.

“It seemed to be busy when we flew from Maui to here,” Rosenthal said. “It was a little crowded, but it was no big deal whatsoever.” 

COVID-19 protocols are also still in place, so a mask will be needed to travel. Sign up for free vacation checks by the sheriff’s department while away. 

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