By Trang Do

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With more than 350,000 flyers, the 10-day Thanksgiving travel period is expected to be the Philadelphia International Airport’s busiest since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For this week alone, we are actually only down 56%, so there is an increase this week and we’re really impressed by that,” said Florence Brown, PHL Airport communications director.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people stay home for the holiday, due to surging coronavirus cases nationwide. But travelers Eyewitness News spoke to say they’re taking the virus seriously and still feel it’s safe to fly.

“It was not crowded at all, there weren’t overflow of lines, people were social distancing and I actually got lucky on my plane, I sat on the end and the middle seat, nobody was even there,” said Suzanne Irizarry, visiting Philadelphia from Tampa Bay, Florida.

“We see [airline employees] spray everything down, when you get inside the plane,” said Luz Diaz of North Philadelphia. “It’s all right, they’ve been doing a good job, protecting us, they really have, and we have to play our part also.”

Even with the boost in travelers this week, it’s a huge drop from the nearly 800,000 flyers who passed through PHL during the same time period last year. Still, Brown hopes it’s a sign of better days to come, after tens of thousands of airline worker layoffs this year, including hundreds in Philadelphia.

“We’re really just hoping that our community can start to come back over the coming months, as we’re seeing the vaccination provide some hope to our community,” she said.

The highest volume days for the Philadelphia airport are projected to be Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday when more than 40,000 flyers are expected each of those days.

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