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FLL buzzes with Christmas travelers willing to face COVID-19 risks

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Despite warnings from health officials asking Americans to avoid traveling during the coronavirus pandemic, it was a busy Thursday night before Christmas Day at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

There were last-minute travelers filling the Spirit Airlines terminal. Most air travelers said they are aware of the risks during the pandemic, but the need to be with their families over the holidays outweighs the fear.

The gravity of the coronavirus pandemic prompted a father to travel with his children to see his mother after she said she was missing her grandchildren. For Nahomie Henrie, it was a must to brave the COVID-19 risk and be there to support her family.

Nahomie Henrie was at FLL late Thursday night on her way to Texas to see family. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

“My husband’s sister, she just had surgery so we had to go see her,” said Henrie, who was flying to Texas.

Although it is the busiest travel day since March, officials at both FLL and Miami International Airport said roughly half the number of people are passing through this year compared to last year’s Christmas Eve. Some travelers included coronavirus testing as part of their new travel plans.

Matt Cieson arrived at FLL from London on Thursday night on his way to Alabama. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

Matt Cieson flew from London out of Heathrow Airport in London, where evidence of a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious prompted a lockdown. He was passing through FLL to get to Alabama.

“I was 100% expecting flights to be completely booked ... but I can say that on my flight from Heathrow, I would say it was about 25% capacity,” Cieson said.

About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.