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Tallahassee International Airport only sees half the number of usual holiday travelers

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 4:46 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 25, 2020 at 11:06 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The scene inside the Tallahassee International Airport was quiet on Wednesday, typically one of the biggest travel days of the year.

TLH is only seeing about half of its usual travel numbers.

“This year, obviously with COVID, is a bit different, really for airports across the country,” said Deputy Director of Aviation, Jim Durwin. “What we’re expecting this year, is our numbers are probably going to be 50-60% lower than what we saw last holiday season.”

Durwin says the 10-day travel period around Thanksgiving started last Friday; the airport expects to see 11,000 total passengers during that time period.

From Thanksgiving through the end of the year, TLH expects 40,000 total passengers to come through the airport. Last Wednesday marked the first direct flight to Houston; Durwin says numbers have only increased on that flight each day.

Passengers traveling on Wednesday told WCTV they took every possible precaution before choosing to fly.

“I miss my parents. I’ve been looking forward to this for such a long time, and I’m super stoked to see my brother,” said FSU student Cooper Shapiro, who was flying home to Dallas.

“I’d be lying if I said I was completely comfortable, but I do trust that Tallahassee Airport and American have figured out the safety part,” said Shapiro.

One couple from New Jersey, Alicia and Gyorgy, were visiting Alicia’s sister.

“The fact that she couldn’t come home for the first Thanksgiving in a while was sort of hard, so we decided to come down,” she said.

Gyorgy said he felt better after doing research.

“The air on the airplanes gets filtered, and the whole cabin air gets replaced every two to six minutes,” he said.

In a difficult year for many, the chance to see family took precedence.

“You have to be very careful; it’s still a little bit unnerving, but at the end of the day, you can’t stop living,” said Isiah Williams, who was traveling to Dallas to see friends and family.

Williams says he was excited to be with loved ones.

“A lot of us have been separate from our families; so just to be in contact with humanity, period, but the blessing is that it’s your family, so it’s going to be a beautiful time,” he said.

Alisha Clark was taking her three-year-old to see godparents and friends.

“I’m excited that they get to see him again, he’s excited, but I’m also kinda still being cautious,” she said. “We’re taking our precautions but at the same time, family needs to see him, someone has already passed away.”

The lack of people isn’t the only difference in 2020; masks are required in the airport and on planes, social distance reminders are laid out on floors and chairs in the lobby and through security, and hand sanitizing station are everywhere.

Durwin says the airport is at maximum staffing right now, with a focus on cleanliness.

There are mini hand sanitizers at the information desk, and they are distributing masks if you’ve forgotten yours.

“Our focus is to make sure we’re providing a safe environment for all of our travelers, both in the airport, and the airlines are playing a role in that too, with making sure that they’re

disinfecting the aircraft and making sure everything is safe for all of the customers that are traveling,” said Durwin.

Airport officials say although the lines may be shorter this year, you should still arrive 90 minutes ahead of time, and do not wrap any gifts you are traveling with.

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