Holiday travel in Panama City Beach is comparable to pre-pandemic

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BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — Travel plans do not seem to be canceled for many even during the Pandemic.

Traditionally the day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the season, and even with the CDC COVID-19 health warnings related to travel concerns, many are still trying to make it to their destination in time for the holiday.

Many have packed their bags and grabbed their masks just to brave busy airports and potential virus exposure.

“And we say it every year, pack your patience,” said Executive Director of Northwest Beaches International Parker McClellan. “Pack a little more this time. Maybe pack a little more. Put some in your carry-on.”

McClellan said the airport is busy, activity is only 20% less than last year at this time.

“TGI-Friday’s was pretty packed at 9 a.m,” said Visitor Jack Staples. “So I would say it was a pretty big day at the airport.”

Staples has flown several times during the Pandemic and he said the number of travelers he saw at airports Wednesday was reminiscent of what he saw before Coronavirus.

“Surprisingly yes, it was very crowded at both,” said Staples.

He flew into Panama City Beach from Ohio and said the airlines did a good job making him feel safe during his journey and connecting flights.

“We are partnering with the airlines so the airplanes are super clean,” said McClellan. “We are wiping down high touch surfaces. So we are doing everything we can do to make your experience safe and secure.”

Meanwhile, according to AAA, about 50 million Americans will drive to their Thanksgiving destination this year.

“I think the advantage for road trips is that people can have their own little self contained safety bubble there in their car where they know who they are traveling with,” said AAA Spokesperson Mark Jenkins. “They know if they are symptomatic, and they know how clean their car is. As opposed to public transportation, air travel, things like that can be a little more challenging to social distance.”

Jenkins said gas prices are the lowest they have seen in 12 years during Thanksgiving. 

As the holiday approaches, it is a good idea to start planning ahead for Christmas. McClellan said if you are planning to travel during the Christmas season and want to fly, book flights in advance as they are starting to sell out and prices are more affordable.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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