Orlando airport prepares for 1.5 million holiday travelers

CDC recommends travelers get tested a few days before, after trip

ORLANDO, Fla. – Airport officials said they expect holiday travel at Orlando International Airport to be about half of what it would normally be.

Despite CDC recommendations to stay home this holiday, some people say they think now is the perfect time to travel.

“There’s a lot less people traveling. It really wasn’t bad. It was the best time to go to Disney for sure and we had a great time,” Sherry Pue said.

Pue and her son got on a flight back to New York Thursday, after a pre-holiday vacation to Disney World. She said the low number of travelers makes her feel safer during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Orlando International Airport is projecting about 1.5 million people will travel through the airport between Dec. 18 and Jan. 7, about half of last year’s numbers.

“I don’t know that we’ll make up for the losses during this pandemic. We are in a deep hole. We’ve never seen this. Our goal is to gradually bring back traffic,” said Phil Brown, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

Brown said the airport is taking just about every measure possible to keep travelers and airport employees safe with hand-sanitizing stations, social distancing and special sanitizing UV lighting.

Pue says she’s noticed.

“Everybody’s taking the proper precautions by wearing their masks and washing their hands. We really have not run into anything terrible,” Pue said.

To hopefully offer some peace of mind, the airport even installed beacons called Even Flow Crowd Radar. It’s a pilot program being used to help keep passengers aware of capacity levels at the southwest gates. When the lights are green, there’s plenty of space but when the light flashes red, that means there is a large crowd in that area making it difficult for people to socially distance themselves.

While the airport is pushing for more travelers, the CDC is urging people to stay home to help prevent the spread of the virus. If you do travel, they are recommending you get tested a few days before and after your trip.

MCO projects the busiest travel day to be after Christmas, on Sunday, Jan. 3, so airport officials are asking travelers to be patient and check their flight status before arriving.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.