PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The Pensacola International Airport was bustling Thursday, Dec. 23 as holiday travelers came in and out of Pensacola ahead of Christmas.
Lewis Garvin, public information officer for the Pensacola International Airport, is please with the the flow of travel this holiday season.
“Thanksgiving was great,” said Garvin. “Christmas is turning out to be really great.”
Garvin said the airport expects to see a 10% to 15% increase in holiday travelers when compared to a record breaking year in 2019. The omicron COVID variant has not stopped people from traveling, he said.
“I think the reason why you see an uptick is multifaceted. I think a lot of people have been cooped up for a long time and they want to travel,” Garvin said.
“We’ve asked a lot of people does the idea of the new variant — does it persuade you from not traveling? And no. They’re aware of it. But it’s not persuading them not travel. And there are some that have changed their plans.”
A hefty line formed at TSA Thursday morning but moved steadily.
Hannah Chism arrived to the airport around 11:30 a.m. Thursday and was greeted with warm hugs from her family. She flew in from New York for Christmas.
“The airport was really busy,” Chism said. “I had a cute dog in front of me the whole time but nothing was crazy because of the travel. It was pretty smooth.”
In New York, the new variant is already changing day-to-day life.
“It’s started to get more serious in the last week or so, and we already had the tickets booked beforehand,” she said. “I’ve definitely been more aware as I’ve been getting ready to travel.”
With thousands more passengers expected to depart and arrive at the airport in the next few days, airport staff is encouraging patience this holiday season.
“Wear your mask. Arrive early. Pack some patience and have fun,” Garvin said. “Have a great holiday season.”
Garvin said the airport is on pace for now to break a record-breaking year for air travel set in 2019.