Thanksgiving crowds spotted at Orlando International Airport but travel is still down

The holiday travel season has kicked off officially but new numbers at the Orlando International Airport (OIA) show that overall travel is down 41 percent this year.

"It's less busy than I expected," one traveler said.

Another one added, "it's very calm, relaxed, not very busy at all."

Airport staff expects just 37,000 passengers to pass through the airport on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. That is compared to more than 150,000 on the day before Thanksgiving last year. 

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Travelers are not surprised though. One of them told FOX 35 that "just the travel restrictions across -- every industry, in general, is down. Most companies and businesses aren't allowed to travel, the government's not allowed to travel."

In OIA's fiscal year wrap-up, the airport says overall in 2020, domestic travel was down 39 percent and international travel is down 57 percent from last year. For the month of September, domestic travel was down 58 percent and international travel was down 97 percent. 

OIA CEO Phil Brown said that "the reality is: Our fiscal year-end numbers show we have a long way to get back to where we were pre-pandemic. While we have made some progress, we must continue to look for wars to build upon our traffic and instill customer confidence in the safety of air travel at Orlando International."

One traveler said that this sounds familiar to other airports she has been through, stating that "I flew from La Guardia and its a total difference -- it looks like a zombie apocalypse in there. There's nobody in the airport.


She says that the bright side is that "not a lot of people are traveling so you've got a lot of room on the plane. I love it."

Nonetheless, OIA is still ranked as one of the top five busiest airports in America. In fact, they expect Sunday to be its busiest travel day of Thanksgiving weekend.

Orlando, Florida, United States - People wait in line at a TSA security checkpoint at Orlando International Airport on Thanksgiving eve, November 25, 2020, in Orlando, Florida. Thousands of travelers are ignoring CDC warnings to avoid holiday travel

In addition, the amount of postal service activity they have seen this fiscal year has jumped 62 percent compared to last year. 

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.