Passengers Continue to Fly Despite Rise in COVID-19 Cases

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Miami International Airport has been so busy that those running operations are now urging passengers to show up three hours before a domestic flight as opposed to the two hours formerly recommended.

This is an indication of the volume of flyers despite the recent rise in COVID-19 numbers.

“I’m always hopping on and off planes going to the next shoot. I have to be really careful,” professional photographer Patrick Fraser said.

He was headed to his flight at MIA alongside many who were not thinking about work, but fun with family and friends during the holidays -- each of them deciding to keep their travel plans even though COVID-19 cases are rising due to the omicron variant.

“I think we’ve all got to be cautious again about who were are sitting next to on the plane and also around the airport,” Fraser said.

“Please pack your patience. Wear your mask,” Jack Varela, a spokesman for MIA, said.  

Airlines and county employees at MIA expect passengers to have a hard time finding a place to park in the garage, and standing in line to check their luggage.

“We had an all time high—historic record of 166,000 passengers yesterday—numbers that we have never seen before although the airport has done everything possible to receive this volume of passengers,” Varela told NBC 6. 

Hand sanitizers stations are up, 6-foot social distance markers are on the floor, and plexiglass is up at check-in counters and at TSA checkpoints.  

In a year where the FAA saw an increase in investigations into bad passenger behavior, MIA has a warning: “If there is any type of incident on the plane or if the passenger does not behave well, or there is some kind of a problem, the passenger can be subject to an FAA fine of $37,000. It’s very important you behave. It’s not worth it,” Varela said. 

The TSA is saying the same thing when it comes to bringing a weapon to the checkpoint. You can get arrested and also hit with fines.

There have been a record number of passengers showing up with guns at checkpoints at MIA and at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

TSA is urging passengers to diligently go through their backpacks, briefcases and purses before heading to the airport. Once the alarm is triggered, the TSA has to shut down the lane for some time thereby delaying holiday travel further.

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