South Florida airports busy as people head out for holiday in spite of warnings

Check airlines requirements here to see COVID requirements you need before getting on a plane

MIAMI, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that one of the biggest travel risks for getting COVID-19 is air travel.

Nevertheless, there were plenty of people heading out of town from South Florida’s two busiest airports on Sunday and again on Monday.

Travel experts said they are expecting this weekend to count the greatest numbers of travelers heading out since the pandemic began.

At Miami International Airport, officials expect more than 621,000 passengers during the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period from Friday, Nov. 20 to Tuesday, Dec. 1, which would make it the busiest 12-day period at the airport since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Airport traffic is expected to be down 50 percent over the same period in 2019, however the projected average of 52,000 passengers per day is a 25-percent increase from the daily average of nearly 40,000 passengers in October, airport officials said.

On Sunday, there was a rush of passengers at MIA with just four days to go before Thanksgiving despite the CDC warnings that people avoid Thanksgiving travel due to surging COVID-19 case numbers.

Traveler Leona Hunt admitted it was risky. “Well, it’s a lot of germs and you’re coming from state to state,” said Hunt, who was wearing a mask at Miami International Airport.

There were similar crowds Sunday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

AAA estimates that some 50 million Americans will still travel for Turkey Day. They stated that’s only a 10 percent drop compared to last year before the pandemic hit.

“You have to be prepared,” TJ D’Angelo said. He was at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. “You have to take your precautions, keep your social distancing,” he said.

As cases rise, the demand for testing rises, too. In some cases, it is required before traveling. The testing site at Hard Rock Stadium broke records Saturday testing 3,347 people in a single day. But the clock is ticking if you need to get results before Wednesday.

“We are anticipating increased demand, so we’re telling people allow at least 3 days for their results. Monday is the day where you need to get that test done if you need that PCR test. It’s important for people to know that,” Mike Jachles of the Florida Division of Emergency Management said.

Jachles suggested that people use the preregistration portal, which will help save time by having clients enter their information prior to arriving for testing: Go to www.Florida.CurativeInc.com.

He said that those signing up should not pay attention to the appointment time and the Hard Rock is a drive-thru site, first come, first served. “We are telling people to take any available appointment for the Hard Rock Stadium Test Site and show up when convenient,” he said.

With tests you should check with airline if they accept the same day rapid test or if the PCR is what’s necessary, which will take a few days to get results.

SEE SOME OF THE AIRLINE REQUIREMENTS:

JetBlue

Delta Airlines

American Airlines

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines

Spirit Airlines

The CDC cautions that air travel may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.


About the Authors:

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.