Holiday travel sees record lows amid COVID-19 pandemic

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By KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Thanksgiving holiday travel is way down this year, according to experts who say Sunday — typically the busiest travel day of the year — will see record low numbers.

Philadelphia International Airport saw around 792,000 travelers move through its gates for the Thanksgiving holiday last year.

But this year, the pandemic helped push those holiday travel numbers down, according to airport spokesperson Florence Brown. She added, though, there's still a lot more volume this season than what they've been seeing.

"There are about 300,000 people who traveled through PHL, so it's been busy," she said.

Torie Wiley flew into Philadelphia Sunday morning following a holiday trip to Ft. Lauderdale. He said he prepared for long lines and cramped spaces, but he was pleasantly surprised by the ease of his journey.

"It was relaxing. There was hardly anybody on the plane. It was probably the lightest travel time I've seen in a long time," he remarked.

He added in addition to the smaller crowds, COVID-19 safety measures taken by the airlines and airports also helped relieve some of his travel worries.

"Everybody was taking the restrictions, staying to themselves, social distancing, nobody getting loud on the plane. It was actually probably some of the best holiday traveling I've ever had," he said.

Lula Kitchens spent the holiday, and her birthday in Florida. She had also mentally prepared for a busy trip through the airports.

"I thought it would be chaotic, I did, I really did, but everything went smoothly. I was shocked," she said. "It was great. It wasn't busy actually. It was on time."

Like Wiley, COVID-19 protocols at the airport helped give Kitchens some mental ease when it came to her flight, which was only about half-full.

"I was already used to wearing my mask at all times in Philly, so I was able to continue," she said.

AAA's Jana Tidwell said the pandemic has done a great job with hampering holiday travel, as they expected less than 20% of Pennsylvanians took long distance trips.

"AAA anticipates that this past holiday weekend will be among the lowest on record in terms of travel volume," said Tidwell.

Pennsylvania officials recently issued an order saying travelers entering the state should have a negative COVID-19 test with 72 hours of coming into the state, or quarantine for 14 days upon entry.

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