Long lines come as surprise as holiday travel ramps up from Charlotte

Holiday travel during pandemic

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Wednesday saw long lines and frayed nerves as thousands of people packed into Charlotte Airport trying to get to their final holiday destinations.

Even as the numbers of positive coronavirus cases swell during the pandemic, many felt the reward was worth the risk.

“Dead. Quiet. I was shocked,” one traveler said.

Lorraine Conrad is hopping a flight back home to Connecticut. She wasn’t expecting to see near-empty concourses and a straight shot through security checkpoints.

“And it is quiet, I’m so happy. (laughs) Selfishly happy,” Conrad said.

Theresa King is headed to Florida and was thrown for a loop by the sights around her.

“We left early. My flight’s not until 8 and there’s nobody here - absolutely empty,” King said.

But it wasn’t all easy check-ins and smooth sailing. Just an hour earlier, you could barely move with people sprinting to get to their gates.

Airport officials say they’re expecting close to 20,000 travelers a day for the next week as people ebb and flow from their holiday travel plans.

“I know they say don’t do it but – family. Can you really stay away from them?” said Maurissa Miller .

Many of the estimated 50 million people who will be traveling over the holiday season will the thinking about the pandemic, and how to keep safe during an unsafe time. Daniel Harris is one of them.

“It’s for safety precautions just to be safe and make sure I’m doing the right thing I need to do,” Harris said.

Naomi Wilson is flying to New York, a known COVID-19 hotspot. The pandemic has certainly changed her plans.

“I’m going to be spending most of my days indoor,” Wilson said.

Even though experts say the risk is out there, many travelers say there is an overwhelming need for home, family and the urge to get there.

Experts say Thanksgiving should be another very busy day.

Officials remind everyone all of the people flying out this week have to come back, so it could be several days before things get back to normal.

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