OIA could see record number of passengers this Thanksgiving travel season

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Thanksgiving travel season is well underway at Orlando International Airport.

OIA officials said they are expecting a record number of passengers to pass through the airport this week, surpassing pre-pandemic figures.

Sunday is projected to be the fifth-busiest day of the Thanksgiving travel season.

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Lines are getting steadily longer as the day goes on and next week, crowds are only going to get larger.

Some passengers told Channel 9 that vaccines have a lot to do with why they’re getting on planes again.

Alexis Morris traveled to Orlando from San Diego to see her family for the holiday.

Read: Orlando International Airport braces for busy holiday travel season

“I feel like with COVID still being a thing here, we’re packed in like sardines on a plane, so kind of odd,” Morris said.

Morris is one of more than 142,000 people getting on a plane at OIA on Sunday.

Read: Tis’ the season for safe holiday travel, tips before you hit the road

This number is more than triple what TSA saw in 2020.

Dr. Jewel Jackson says a big motivator for the packed planes was getting her COVD-19 vaccination. “I’m fully vaxxed and I feel comfortable traveling. I try to stay out of people’s faces, take my vitamins and try to stay as healthy as possible,” Jackson said. “I’m always going to side with science and I know that the vaccines work.”

Jackson also convinced her family to get the shot as well.

Read: Holiday travel with kids: Top survival tips

It’s the reason they’ll be together to cut the turkey on Thursday and a reason she hopes more families will be reunited in days to come.

“I’m still just going to be with my immediate family,” Jackson said. “I think that with the vaccines, it’s going to be great for people to be able to get with loved ones that they’ve missed having time with. I think that’s so important. I definitely recommend the vaccine so we can get past this thing.”

Read: Thanksgiving air travel may reach pre-pandemic levels at Orlando International Airport

Airport leaders ask you to arrive at least two hours early, even if you’re traveling domestic, and if you’re traveling internationally, you’re also asked to bring a negative COVID-19 test.

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