Thanksgiving travel takes off again at the Burlington airport

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 4:37 PM EST
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Millions of Americans are on the move for the Thanksgiving holiday.

A surge of travelers is returning to the skies for what could be the busiest travel period since the start of the pandemic.

At the Burlington International Airport, TSA New England said they expected to see 1,800-2,000 passengers pass through on Wednesday, which is a lot. The airport just hit the 2,000-passenger benchmark for the first time in 2021 a few days ago.

I spoke with folks traveling far and wide for the holidays.

“We had to buy clothes. We only had one suitcase-- it was hers-- and we were all sharing one suitcase,” Sofia Colon said.

What’s holiday travel without a hiccup or two? The Colon family visiting Burlington from Puerto Rico said their luggage got lost, so they had to make do before they fly out of Burlington for the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.

“There wasn’t a laundry place at where we were staying, so we had to get them wet-- the clothes-- and wear them again,” Colon said.

Leave extra time-- that’s always what airports say in anticipation of large travel crowds during the holiday weeks.

“We parked in the wrong terminal, so there was a hiccup in terms of getting in the right terminal to get the flight, but we made it in the nick of time with a McDonald’s hash brown in hand,” said Andrew Cekala, who was returning home to Stowe.

And what’s a trip right before Thanksgiving without some waiting?

“Our flight’s been delayed half an hour but nothing else, hopefully, that’s all,” said Colin Reid of Burlington.

Minor inconveniences aside, Daniel Velez of TSA New England says they are pleased with the way the airport has handled the surge of passengers.

“We had very little incidents as far as people in long waiting lines even on the busiest day in Burlington,” Velez said.

“It was an early morning but seamless travel and everything went smoothly,” said Keith Nicholson, who was visiting Woodstock from Kentucky.

“Clean and easy,” said Amy Kolar of Essex. “They’re early-- here they come!”

This is the second Thanksgiving in a row under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s definitely an increased risk of transmission but I have good faith in my school’s habits of prevention,” said Erubey Lopez, who was returning home to Burlington.

Many passengers I spoke with said they’re confident in the protection provided by masks and vaccines.

“We’re both fully vaccinated and everything, so we feel good about it. And the people we will be with are fully vaccinated, so you’re always taking some chance,” Reid said.

Some travelers are returning home, like Matt Bacewicz, who was headed back to Winooski after a two-week trip to Hawaii.

“I’d rather still be there, honestly,” Bacewicz said.

For others, like Vesper Gaines who lives in Hawaii, it’s an exciting change of scenery for the holidays.

“You can actually see the fall colors but in Hawaii, it’s just like green, green, green all year long,” Gaines said.

New England TSA says if you thought Wednesday was busy, they expect this Sunday after Thanksgiving to be even more crowded with folks returning back home.

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