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Orlando International Airport prepares for most travelers since pandemic began

Thanksgiving travel still down about 50% compared to 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. – Leaders at Orlando International Airport announced they plan to see their highest numbers of passengers since the pandemic began for Thanksgiving travel.

Travelers are warned that lines could be long, but not in the way you remember them.

Brian Engle serves as the Director of Customer Experience at Orlando International Airport.

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“Sometimes the line appears longer because of that social distancing, the extra space between guests,” he explained.

Enforcement continues when it comes to social distancing and safety precautions, said Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown.

“Wear the mask and wear it properly,” Brown said. “It doesn’t do any good to have it down below the nose.”

“They’ve been doing it all week at the theme parks, I’m sure they’re pretty accustomed to it when they get there,” Engle added.

Below are the 12-Day Thanksgiving Travel Departure Projections from OIA:

Traveling DateTotal Travelers
Sunday, 29 November44,347
Saturday, 28 November42,623
Monday, 30 November42,480
Saturday, 21 November41,319
Sunday, 22 November41,113
Monday, 23 November40,454
Friday, 20 November38,502
Tuesday, 1 December37,440
Wednesday, 25 November36,936
Friday, 27 November34,825
Tuesday, 24 November33,788
Thursday, 26 November22,072

The numbers would be the most passengers leaving Orlando International Airport since the pandemic began. However, it’s still only about half what they saw during the same stretch last year.

Below are the busiest 2019 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Days at MCO from most busy to least busy. (Departures and Arrivals):

Traveling DateTotal Travelers
Saturday, Nov 30th169,890
Sunday, Dec 1st163,030
Saturday, Nov 23rd161,167
Friday, Nov 22nd155,824
Sunday, Nov 24th154,270
Monday, Dec 2nd152,025
Wednesday, Nov 27th150,403
Tuesday, Nov 26th143,140
Monday, Nov 25th140,145
Friday, Nov 29th131,709
Tuesday, Dec 3rd131,446
Thursday, Nov 28th100,314

If you are traveling, Brown reminded passengers that TSA now allows for you to bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in your carry-on, well above the usual 3.4 ounce bottles.

Travelers may also notice fewer fellow passengers, since TSA data shows airport travel is down 74% since May, and as cases continue to climb nationwide.

“People used to book three months out but because of COVID-19, it’s sometimes a week out now,” Engle said. “They’re going to wait that long and wait to see how the numbers are.”

Orlando International Airport
Orlando International Airport

Brown pointed out that OIA is still unable to receive flights from the European Union and the United Kingdom, and limited flights from Brazil, in addition to restrictions in the U.S.

“You’ve got quarantines in the tri-state area, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut,” he said. “So that’s going to have some impact. How we measure that, it’s pretty difficult right now to guess what that is. It’s concerning, but it’s concerning for the whole country.”


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