RDU preps for Thanksgiving as pandemic continues to cripple air travel

Wake County News

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and official warnings about curtailing Thanksgiving travel, people are inundating airports around the country to fly home for the holidays.

The TSA said more than one million people passed through its security checkpoints this weekend across the U.S.

There won’t be that many people at RDU International Airport over the holiday weekend, but the airport will see increases.

In 2019, RDU said it handled more 14 million passengers.

This year they say they’ll be lucky to break five million.

Of that five million, RDU said three million of those traveled before the pandemic got worse in March.

Now, RDU CEO Mike Landguth believes a significant increase in air travelers will happen during this holiday.

“We’re expecting 83,500 passengers will travel through RDU the week of Thanksgiving,” said Landguth. “That’s a 7 percent increase over the past couple of weeks.”

One of those passengers is Renee Lopez who admitted he was slightly worried about flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve been here a long time and I feel I need to go home,” he said.

Although North Carolina has no travel restrictions — lots of other places do.

Landguth said to find out what those restrictions go to RDU’s website. Scroll down to the section listing airlines which fly in/out of RDU.

When you choose an airline their link will tell you what kind of restrictions they have in places they fly to.

“I would encourage people to constantly look at that until the day of travel because those things can change rapidly,” said Landguth.

At the airport, masks are required and TSA is working to make the check-in process as COVID-19 free as possible by sanitizing checkpoints every 30 minutes.

It is also is encouraging less hand-to-hand contact with the screening agent by changing procedures.

“We are also using CT X-Ray machines which allow passengers to reduce the items needed the divest when going through the screening process,” said the TSA’s Dennis Nelson.

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