New York City airports are already buzzing with Thanksgiving travelers; Experts say you need to be patient – CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are still days until Thanksgiving, but vacation trips are already increasing.

The number of people passing through US airports over the weekend reached levels not seen since before the pandemic. But as CBS2’s John Dias reports, a new vaccine mandate could slow some travelers down.

READ MORE: TSA Confident Start of Federal COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Won’t Affect Staff Over Thanksgiving Travel Period

With holiday greetings coming up, such is the stalemate. From LaGuardia Airport, where lines to get through TSA were longer than usual, to John F. Kennedy International Airport, local transit hubs are already overcrowded.

“It’s the holiday, it happens,” traveler Jon Case told CBS2.

“I just wanted to be here early. I’m taking an international flight,” said traveler Emanuel Hugo.

AAA predicts Thanksgiving travel in general will return to near pre-pandemic levels, with more than 53 million Americans traveling. Experts say the eastbound lanes of the Long Island Expressway will see the most congestion in our area on Thanksgiving night.

“From 2:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, the day before the holiday, we expect a 480% increase in traffic volume,” said AAA Senior Manager of Public Affairs Robert Sinclair, Jr.

It comes as a new vaccine mandate for federal workers goes into effect Monday, impacting TSA workers.

“If so, they should be vaccinated,” said traveler Miguel Ortiz.

In October, 60% of TSA workers received at least one injection. However, a spokesperson does not want to give an updated number.

READ MORE: NYC Volunteers Are Working To Make Sure Everyone Gets This Thanksgiving

While the agency says it is prepared, others fear it will lead to staff shortages and longer wait times through security.

Brooklyn resident Erica Morris flew to Kennedy Airport from Charlotte and said flying home was a hassle.

“It took way too long,” she said. “It didn’t look like a lot of people were working. Not enough people anyway.”

All of this is because the number of new COVID cases has increased by nearly 54% nationwide in the past month. Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin are among the hardest hit.

“With a daily average of 92,000 cases now, we have to be careful,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci on CBS Mornings. “That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holiday. We can be with our families if you are vaccinated.”

dr. Fauci said it’s a good idea to take a COVID test before celebrating indoors.

“It’s not a hard requirement, but I think if you want to take that extra step, especially if you’re in a region where there’s a lot of infections,” he said.

The TSA expects the Sunday after Thanksgiving will likely see the highest number of air travelers as people return home.

MORE NEWS: Health experts concerned about new wave of COVID after Thanksgiving

AAA experts say air traffic has almost fully recovered from the dramatic drop during the pandemic. That is 80% more than last year.

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