Traveling for the holiday? Orlando International Airport officials say arrive early, prepare for long wait times

Officials anticipate Sunday after Thanksgiving to be busiest travel day

ORLANDO, Fla. – The official start of the holiday travel period kicked off Friday at Orlando International Airport.

In comparison to last year with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, airport officials said they are anticipating things will be busier this year.

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Officials said garages are filling up quickly and asked travelers to pack their patience and arrive early to the airport.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority is estimating 1.63 million passengers will pass through the airport during the Thanksgiving travel season. The next five days are expected to be busy with Saturday expected to be the third busiest day of the travel period with 149,000 passengers.

The busiest day will be the Sunday after Thanksgiving with 154,000 passengers.

While COVID-19 cases are up in other parts of the country, officials are predicting the number of passengers will likely be close to pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, a record 26 million passengers and crew passed through U.S. airport screening in the 11-day period around Thanksgiving. But that plummeted in 2020, as the pandemic kept people at home.

AAA is predicting more than 53 million people will be traveling either by ground or by air for the Thanksgiving holiday, which is a 13% rise from 2020.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.