60,000 people expected to fly through Tucson this week

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 5:57 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The busiest travel day of the year is here. Millions of people took to the skies on Wednesday, Nov. 24 to head home for Thanksgiving. It’s a big bump in passengers from what airlines saw last year, but it’s still down from normal.

The Tucson International Airport expects more than 60,000 passengers to be arriving or departing Thanksgiving week. That is about 50% more people than in 2020.

On Wednesday, many hugged and embraced for the first time in at least a year, if not longer.

“I’m just so thrilled everybody could come and visit. They live so far away, and we have this opportunity to be together for the holidays, it’s always a lot of fun,” said Charlie Ybarra, picked up his son. “Definitely, definitely, love seeing their smiling faces…and give them big hugs.”

Ybarra said the family did not get together in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year is extra sweet for them, being able to see each other and spend time together. His son, Tomaz Ybarra, said the airports were not as crowded as he had anticipated.

“I honestly had less to deal with as far as security than when I flew out to San Diego two months ago in the middle of the week. Kind of surprising for the day before Thanksgiving,” said Tomaz.

Nationwide, about 9% fewer people will be flying this year than in 2019. The Tucson International Airport expects about a 3% drop from 2019. Even with fewer people, holiday travel and crowds can be frustrating and put more folks on edge.

“What we’re telling people is to pack your patience when you come to the airport. You will see lines and really full airplanes. We’re expecting all of our flights around this thanksgiving holiday to be 100% full,” said Bruce Goetz, COO Tucson Airport Authority.

Goetz reminds people that masks are required, regardless of vaccination status, in all parts of the airports and planes.

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