Holiday travel expected to soar over last year despite COVID surge

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – As dueling COVID-19 variants spread nationwide holiday travel is predicted to soar.

AAA estimates more than 109 million will travel this year. Air travel is expected to nearly triple compared to last year with airlines seeing an estimated 184% increase from 2020.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport officials are expecting a surge of passengers as well with 400,000 estimated to arrive or depart from Cleveland from Dec. 17 to Jan. 2, that’s 90% of the passenger levels from 2019. Yet COVID remains on the mind of several flyers.

“Definitely, but I took the precautions to test us last night we both are vaxed so we’re on our way,” said Inverness Gwin traveling to Florida from Cleveland.

“COVID is probably the worst thing I’m worried about,” said flyer Amy Juergens. “Just because of the omicron spread is pretty high right now.”

Tackl Health offers onsite COVID testing at the airport for purchase. Customers do not need to be flying in or out of Hopkins to qualify for a test.

“These days it’s hard to get a COVID test so we offer the service to be able to come in just walk in literally off the street and get a test,” explained Jacqueline Bunkley with Tackl Health. “We are supplied we are ready to go … definitely has picked up we usually do anywhere from 30 to 50 tests a day now we’re close to 200 or if not more.”

Airport officials advise travelers to arrive at least two hours early and to be aware of the airports peak travel times to avoid potential delays.

“Make sure when you travel, you’re not feeling ill because if you are stay home,” said Khalid Bahhur, commissioner of airports. “You’re putting yourself, you’re putting the employees at risk by coming to the airport sick.”

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