SFO passenger numbers still below pre-pandemic levels as travelers head home after Thanksgiving

J.R. Stone Image
Monday, November 27, 2023
How were SFO's travel numbers during Thanksgiving holiday?
Millions of people are headed home after the Thanksgiving holiday. But SFO passenger numbers are still below where they were before the pandemic.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Millions of people are headed home after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration screened a record number of passengers this year and estimates that 2.9 million people will have taken to the skies Sunday when it's all said and done.

San Francisco International Airport is still working to get passenger numbers to where they were pre-pandemic.

On a night when you'd think post-Thanksgiving traffic into SFO might bring out the true holiday Grinches, that was hardly the case.

"An amazing time! We had a good time reuniting with family," said Christina Laosio who was headed back to Denver.

"No drama? Everything good?," we asked Angelina Ning to which she smiled and replied, "No drama!"

"Thumbs up yeah!" said Greg Davis, who was flying back to Texas.

MORE: Thanksgiving travel rush begins at SFO as TSA predicts busiest holiday season on record

The TSA is predicting its busiest season ever and it says it all kicks off Friday with the start of Thanksgiving travel.

"Everything good that you can ask for has happened," said Airport Duty Manager Chris Morgan.

Morgan says that SFO hasn't dealt with any major issues and only a limited amount of delays on a Sunday that was predicted to be the busiest air travel day of the year, and possibly busiest ever.

Morgan though says that passenger numbers here are still well below where they were, at 85% of pre-pandemic travel.

"We just didn't have the line that we were expecting, I would say passengers were expecting because typically passengers would come here and they're expecting this madhouse zoo-like environment, it was not that," said Morgan.

Smooth sailing inside SFO, but a bit of a different story on the roadways were there were backups just to get to the airport.

"There was a lot of traffic coming to the airport and everything," sand Ning.

MORE: Thanksgiving travel tips: Best and worst days to fly or drive

But those we spoke with kept their focus on how special it was to see family.

"It was really nice, really happy to see my family again. I don't see them often since I am in school," said Ning.

"We hated leaving our family," said Laosio.

"Yeah if I didn't have to leave, I wouldn't be leaving today but you know actually, it's been really really tame, ya know I flew out on Wednesday and it wasn't that bad," said Davis.

And just looking at Terminal 3 you can see, the crowds are not shoulder to shoulder.

The type of news that every traveler wants to hear.

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