Families reunite for the holidays as air travel trends ahead of Thanksgiving

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Kimberley Sue hasn’t seen her son since the pandemic first hit.

“We haven’t seen him in two years as a matter of fact,” she said.

Now, she decided to get back on a plane for the first time, heading to El Paso, Texas.

“Well, it’s something that we’ve really, really missed. We missed Christmas last year and Thanksgiving,” she said. “And Christmas we’ll be home again this year, but for thanksgiving, we are going. And hopefully, everything will run just fine.”

Sue isn’t alone in missing family over the holidays last year. 11-year-old Judith Goldiner said she was excited to land in Peoria from Florida.

“I couldn’t see most of my family ’cause I couldn’t travel much,” she said.

Gene Olson with the Peoria International Airport (PIA) said the three days before Thanksgiving are showing increased passenger counts.

“November is kind of a slow month for us, but there’s a lot of activity packed into those days right before and right after Thanksgiving,” he said.

As the weekend ends and people fly home, people can expect more foot traffic at the airport.

“The Sunday after Thanksgiving is a nuthouse,” he said.

Olsen said this year is slightly more normal than 2020, but strict COVID-19 mitigations are still in place.

In fact, TSA agents are required to have their COVID-19 vaccines by Nov. 22 per a federal mandate.

With a new surge of travelers after last year’s pandemic holidays, Olsen’s advice is simple: plan ahead.

“I’m advising people who don’t check a bag to get here an hour and a half before, and if you are going to check a bag, get here two hours before,” he said.

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