Biggest headache for Philadelphia International Airport travelers? Finding a COVID test

A negative COVID test is not required for domestic flights, but officials encourage you not to travel if you are sick.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Flights are being canceled left and right across the U.S. just days after Christmas. Airlines are scrambling with crew members calling out sick because of COVID, and winter weather is causing trouble out west.

But the biggest issue for travelers at the Philadelphia International Airport isn't delays: it's getting a COVID test before their flight.

"It's been hard to figure out what's required, and then with Christmas break in the middle, most of the testing agencies are promising a 48-hour turnaround but more are like 72, so it's been difficult," explained John Tatum from Narberth.

Tatum said he's just happy to finally have his boarding pass in hand and to be getting on a plane to Ecuador.

While delays and cancellations are slamming airports, flights haven't been too bad at Philadelphia International. On Sunday, according to FlightAware, the airport had 122 delays and 16 cancellations into or out of Philly.

"They could be caused by a variety of issues: there's a bad weather system out west that could be impacting flights coming in here, COVID has been an issue for some of the airlines," said airport spokesperson Heather Redfern.

Travel numbers are up compared to last year. On average this past week, more than 1.9 million people passed through TSA checkpoints each day. That's more than double the number of travelers in 2020.

If you do need to get tested for international travel or would like to upon returning, the airport has a testing center on-site. A negative COVID test is not required for domestic flights, but officials encourage you not to travel if you are sick.

"It's been busy as more people are heading out and testing is required at many locations. You do need to register online before you head out to the testing facility," Redfern said.

Spirit, Delta, and American are some of the airlines that have canceled flights in Philadelphia on Monday.

Redfern encourages travelers to sign up for alerts with your airline and to check the status of your flight before leaving for the airport. She also said it's best to arrive three hours before your flight.

You can find more information about the testing available to passengers at the airport online.
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