Dec 22, 2021 - News

Philadelphia airport expects busy holiday travel as Omicron spreads

Travelers walk through Philadelphia International Airport.
Travelers walk through Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Photo by Hannah Beier/Getty Images

The Philadelphia International Airport is warning travelers taking to the skies over the holidays to arrive at least three hours ahead of scheduled boarding times.

By the numbers: PHL officials anticipate an estimated 925,700 passengers will pass through the airport between Dec. 22 and Jan. 4, 2022.

  • The busiest day will be Dec. 26, with more than 75,000 travelers. Dec. 27 and 29 will trail behind with nearly 74,000.

Between the lines: The heightened holiday travel comes as the U.S. grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases largely driven by the Omicron variant, which is now the dominant strain of coronavirus in the country.

What they're saying: "You have to do your homework before you fly," PHL spokesperson Heather Redfern warned. "Travel guidelines from your destination and airlines change frequently."

Here are tips for those planning to travel in the coming days:

  • Face masks are required by all passengers ages 2+ inside the airport and on planes. This requirement will stay in place until March 18.
  • Be sure to leave your gifts unwrapped in your checked bags because they have to be inspected. If a present gets unwrapped at the checkpoint, travelers are able to get a TSA-assigned voucher and have it rewrapped.
  • COVID-19 testing is available at PHL daily, from 7:30am to 6pm. You must register online, but it's better if you handle that no more than three days before you arrive. Beware: Mornings are the busiest times to get a test at the airport.

Of note: The airport's economy parking lot is closed, and onsite garages are at capacity.

  • Your best bet is to have someone drop you off at the airport.
  • If that's not possible, there are nine off-site parking lots. Making a reservation is recommended.
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