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Holiday travel expected to fall short of pre-pandemic numbers

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KION) Rising COVID-19 cases aren't stopping the holiday travel rush. The Transportation Security Administration says they have screened more than 2 million passengers a day since Friday, December 17. That's about 1 million more travelers per day compared to 2020. But it falls short from pre-pandemic numbers.

Still, it was a rush at San Jose International Airport Tuesday as people started taking off to visit with family after another long pandemic year.

"I’ve been on a plane once since the pandemic,” said Martha Beal, visiting family in San Jose from San Diego. “I've been boosted. And we really are looking forward to being with our grandsons and everybody else."

San Jose International Airport expects Wednesday and Thursday to be their busiest travel days this week as people head home for the holidays.

But with COVID cases surging around the globe, international travel has gotten more difficult for some. The CDC added eight countries to its high-risk category on Monday.

"If you’re not vaccinated, I would say travel is really not a great idea. Because you are in a very vulnerable place now with Omicron," Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, said on Face the Nation.

The Omicron variant has now been detected in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties, but not yet in Monterey or San Benito. Many people we spoke to at the airport say concerns over the variant aren't slowing them down.

"I’m not really, but I guess so, because it's kind of like shutting everything kind of back down again," said Brandon, who is visiting his brother for Christmas.

"We came back from Universal Studios in Burbank. We went for the holidays, took the kids kids out,” said Alex from San Jose. "We take precautions, we do the basics and whatnot. So no, we're not really worried about it.”

For those who haven't traveled in a while, the airport is reminding people to:

  • Arrive to the airport early, two hours for domestic travel and three hours for international.
  • Make parking reservations online ahead of time.
  • And reminder — masks are required to fly.

Some airlines are also offering COVID testing on-site for those who want to make sure they're safe to travel before taking off.

The airport said they haven't seen any major delays so far, but that could change as more rain heads into the area. It's always important to check your flight status before making the drive out to the airport.

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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.

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