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RSW airport experiencing slow travel week for Thanksgiving

We noticed many people are choosing to stay put for Thanksgiving week during the pandemic. Southwest Florida International Airport is not as busy as past holidays.

Travelers we did speak to at RSW Tuesday said they couldn’t wait to see their families. Many had been tested for the coronavirus before taking their flights.

Still, RSW was quite empty two days before Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving is all about bringing families together,” said Charlie Possino, who flew into RSW from Fort Lauderdale.

“It’s gonna look like a lot of food, a lot of family, even though everybody couldn’t travel,” said Che Lawrence, who was visiting from New York.

But the Seiple family is trading their turkey gathering for the sunshine. While they’re ready to see everything Southwest Florida has to offer, RSW is still seeing the pandemic impacts.

“It was a little low key this time, I think,” said Melissa Seiple with her son Sebastian, who visited form Ohio. “The plane was packed, but other than that, the airport was kind of empty.”

From January through October of last year, more than eight million people walked through RSW. This year, it was more empty carousels and less than full ticket counters. Fewer than five million people have stepped foot in RSW airport in 2020.

“The flight was not packed capacity, so I felt more comfortable,” Lawrence said.

But RSW’s data shows more people are trusting the friendly skies again. You can see it in the packed long-term parking lots.

In October, close to 420,000 people went through the airport. That’s best number the airport has seen since the pandemic started.

RSW won’t have the November numbers until next month, but the trend shows a little bit of hope that more people will come in and out of this airport.

Track flights in real time worldwide using the FlightAware website’s map, or track flights specifically to and from RSW using the Lee County Port Authority’s website.

Reporter:Andryanna Sheppard
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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