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Holiday travel down, but people still flying in and out of Mitchell Airport

Posted at 10:23 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 23:23:21-05

MILWAUKEE — Holiday travel is expected to be down this week, but millions are still on the move despite health officials urging just the opposite.

Most would typically expect Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport’s terminal to be packed just two days before Christmas, however amid the pandemic, it was nearly empty Wednesday night.

This is usually the busiest travel week of the year, but the only thing somewhat normal about this holiday season inside Mitchell International Airport is the celebrations as families reunite. Janelle Mertens of San Francisco wore a mask and a face shield while receiving a warm welcome home from her parents.

“I’m not a healthcare worker but I have health problems so I haven’t left my house in a week and here I am on a plane,” Mertens said.

The Transportation Security Administration known as the TSA said about 2 million passengers have been through airport checkpoints since Monday. That’s less than half the amount compared to the same days last year.

“I had really bad anxiety and even on the plane. It was pretty full,” Mertens said.

Mertens admits she was worried about taking flight, but she decided the risk was worth the reward of being with family after several months apart.

“I know there was a lot of issues on if people should be traveling for the holidays, and that’s why I just tried to be as safe. I quarantined for two weeks. I’m getting COVID tested the day I get back,” she said.

In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, most airport stores and food courts are closed and Mitchell International is requiring everyone inside the terminal to wear masks. Airlines are mandating the same on board.

Stockley Clark of Milwaukee is off to Orlando to spend the holiday’s with his son. When asked if he had any hesitations about boarding a plane, he replied, “A bit, but I’ve traveled a couple times during COVID, so I have developed a little comfort.”

Mitchell International Airport is also urging people to check into their flights at home or on their phones, and if you’re picking up a passenger, you’re asked to stay in your car.

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