SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It almost looked like 2019 at the airport as people travel ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
San Francisco International Airport officials say Friday is expected to be the busiest day at the airport since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are probably going to see more than 50,000 people go through our security check points today, which would be a new pandemic-era record. That's the good news. This day in 2019, we saw over 88,000, so we still have ground to make up. But this represents a continuing growth of passenger activity that began spring break of this year and has been steady ever since," airport spokesperson Doug Yakel said Friday morning.
Travelers say it feels good to be going somewhere.
"It feels pretty great. We have been stuck at home since 2020, it was pretty dreadful. But finally this year things are a lot better. We are able to get out and do things we couldn't do before," said Hien Huyne before boarding a flight to Hawaii with his wife and 3 kids.
The uptick in travelers is giving a big boost to SFO's recovery from the pandemic.
"What is leads to is more and more restaurants and shops re-opening. By this holiday season, we will have 80% of restaurants and shops re-opened," Yakel said.
Schools are closed next week for the holiday. Having that week off has turned Friday into the busiest travel day of Thanksgiving, taking the title away from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. With people trickling back, officials don't expect return trips to unseat Friday of its ranking.
"Our second busiest day is probably next Sunday. So today will be the peak, next Sunday will be the second busiest day for Thanksgiving period as everyone comes back to SFO," Yakel said.
Some airports are warning travelers of long lines at security check points because the federal mandate stating employees must be vaccinated could lead to fewer TSA workers.
SFO officials do not anticipate having that issue.
"We are not concerned. We have been in touch with the TSA, I think their deadline is next Monday. They are advising that their vax rates are very high and they have no concerns about being able to staff our security check point, so we have no concern," Yakel said Friday.
He does want to remind travelers that facemasks are still required at the airport and on flights.