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KCI nears pre-pandemic holiday travel numbers

"It’s the first time I’ve seen my family since 2019,” said Melinda Palmer, KCI traveler.

Posted: Nov 24, 2021 5:31 PM

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Airport travel nears pre-pandemic levels as thousands hit the skies for Thanksgiving. 

Of the 20 million Americans the Transportation Security Administration expects to travel this week, 312,000 of those flyers are projected to pass through the Kansas City International Airport.  

According to KCI officials, that's 40% busier than this time last year. 

However, numbers are still down compared to pre-pandemic holiday travel. 

“We’ll only be about 85-90% of pre-pandemic levels as we're still working with airlines to bring back air service on some key routes,” said Justin Meyer, Deputy Director of Aviation for KCI. 

While the busiest time of year to travel is still waning, airport officials said don't let the numbers fool you. All passengers should still arrive two hours early for the scheduled departure time. 

But for the thousands of travelers rushing home for Thanksgiving, many said they didn't mind the long TSA lines as families looked forward to being together for Turkey Day for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Yeah, it is true. It’s the first time I’ve seen my family since 2019,” said Melinda Palmer, KCI traveler. 

KCI was home to family reunions two years in the making as travelers hugged and jumped into each other's arms.

For two little girls, Piper and Izzy, they waited for mom who had been away in Atlanta for five weeks on military training. 

Travelers said they know what to be thankful for this holiday. Simply, being together. 

“Oh, I think we should all be very thankful for what we have this Thanksgiving with what we have with COVID. A lot of people are not as fortunate,” said Harold Starbard, picked up friend from KCI. 

KCI Airport officials want to remind flyers that the federal mask policy is still in place for all airports. All passengers on flights and those waiting in the airport for pick up will need to wear a face covering. 

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It was a pleasant start to the weekend with sunny skies and temperatures reaching the mid 60s. A cold front moving through the area will bring us down into the 30s for lows overnight with gusty winds up to 20 mph. This will keep our highs in the 50s on Sunday under mostly sunny skies with mild winds from the southwest. Temperatures will quickly start to warm up again on Monday with highs in the mid 60s. Rain chances look to stay minimal into next week. Temperatures are forecasted to stay above average for the first day of December on Wednesday.
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