Holiday travel up 60% at Philadelphia International Airport as omicron looms

"I think people are trying to get back to some sense of normalcy even though there are variants out there," said a PHL official.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thousands traveled by plane and train through Philadelphia on Sunday, making it one of the busiest travel days this holiday season.

"Family is always getting together on holidays, that's what it is," said Alisa Nanulat of Chicago.

"It was the first time I had seen some of them in a year and a half," said Kisean Jones of Chestnut Hill. "It was nice. It was nice to have some of that family time again. Of course, it's not normal. It's not how it was before COVID, but you have to make the best of it."

Philadelphia International Airport officials said passenger travel is up 60% from 2020 but still down 19% from 2019.

SEE ALSO: More than 1,000 US flights canceled Sunday as airlines say COVID cases impact flight crews

"I think people are trying to get back to some sense of normalcy even though there are variants out there," said PHL Spokesperson Heather Redfern. "But people having been vaccinated and still needing masks, and doing things outside where they can be distant from people -- I think that's why there's been an increase in our travel numbers."

The rapid spread of the omicron variant has some travelers concerned though.

"When we get back you know, I want to hang out with friends and go back to school and everything. And getting sick just makes that so much more of a pain in the butt," said Kira Chiapelli of Cincinnati.

There have been more than 2,700 flight cancellations since Christmas Eve as the recent COVID-19 surge has resulted in crew shortages and disrupted several airlines across the country.

In Philadelphia, officials reported 114 delayed flights and 15 cancellations on Sunday.

At 30th Street Station, weary travelers said they're ready to go back home.

"It's kind of crazy because we've packed a whole lot of travel into just a few weeks because we didn't travel for 18 months, so we kind of overloaded," said Krista Khone of Rogers, Arkansas.
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