Holiday travelers on the move despite concerns over COVID-19 omicron variant

Many said the pandemic has kept them apart from loved ones, but this year they're making the drive.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The holiday rush is underway, with people across the country headed out to see their loved ones for Christmas.

Despite concerns about COVID-19 and the omicron variant, more people are traveling this year compared to last year.

Action News caught up with travelers gassing up and hitting the road for the holidays.

"This is the season to have that family gathering fun," said Tish McAllister from Germantown.

Many said the pandemic has kept them apart from loved ones, but this year they're making the drive.

"I got family out there, family I ain't seen for a while," said Christopher Tucker from West Philadelphia.

Rosanne Placey, a spokesperson for the Pa Turnpike Commission, said about 650,000 drivers are expected to be on the road Thursday, traveling through the turnpike.

"I'm traveling during the busiest travel day," said Tristen St. Clair from Bala Cynwyd.

Some 5.4 million people are expected to travel the turnpike from Thursday through January 2, which is close to 2019 levels. That comes with a warning to pay attention on the roadway.

"There's a lot of distracted driving out there, and a lot of speeding going on," said Placey.

When it comes to air travel, the numbers are down compared to this time in 2019.

Philadelphia International Airport is averaging around 852 total flights, arrivals and departures per day.

That's still up about 30% from this time last year.

Many are determined to see their loved ones.

"I'm going to see my girlfriend for the first time for the holiday, so it's going to be our first holiday spent together," said Melissa Miller.

Despite concerns over omicron, the holiday rush was picking up at departure lines at the airport, and travelers said they were trying to stay safe in the crowds.

"Maintain distance, you know. Wear your mask," said Tyone Daniels, from Elkton, Maryland.
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