Thanksgiving travelers experience crowds as TSA vaccine mandate looms

Local

SAN DIEGO — The Thanksgiving holiday travel rush is already here as passengers who landed at the San Diego International Airport Sunday evening said airports across the country were packed days before Thanksgiving.

“I flew through Denver and it was pretty busy,” Talmage resident Kevin Leavy said. “It’s good to have society back again.”

Another passenger, who flew in from Washington D.C. and plans to spend Thanksgiving for the first time with her mom and all her kids, said her flights were completely full.

“This is the first Thanksgiving I get to spend with all four of my kids and my mom,” passenger Paige Peters said. “I’m excited about that because we have been stationed overseas serving our country for the last seven years, so it’ll be nice to be home.”

American Automobile Association predicts roughly 53 million people will travel for Thanksgiving as 4.2 million of them will board planes.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, agents screened more than 2.2 million passengers on Friday alone — the highest number since early 2020.

“I think with working from home, people have a little more flexibility and maybe they are getting ahead of the travel, so they can kind of finish up their week at home and enjoy the rest of the holidays with family,” Leavy said.

In the midst of a record travel season, TSA workers are also facing a vaccine mandate Monday.

In a statement, a TSA spokesperson said, “TSA does not anticipate that the vaccine mandate will in any way impact the agency’s ability to staff for Thanksgiving travel.”

Some passengers support vaccine and mask mandates as travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.

“I’m at risk right and so if other people get vaccinated, that helps lower my risk,” Peters said.

Travel experts recommend getting to the airport two hours before your flight and three hours for those flying international to give enough time to navigate through the crowds.

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