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Thanksgiving travel at San Diego International Airport predicted to double from 2020

The San Diego International Airport expects to see more than twice as many Thanksgiving travelers this year as it did last year.

Katarina Nelson and her pup Butters were some of those travelers. They flew into San Diego Tuesday to visit friends for Thanksgiving.

“So you just have to be patient and mostly be prepared," Nelson said. "Not just with food and stuff, but have extra masks and just have everything with you because otherwise, it’s going to feel chaotic because it’s pretty busy.”


She recommends that people flying with pets prepare ahead of time because each airline has different requirements and also pack snacks because some airlines are not serving food.

Katie Weaver and her family were in San Diego for the weekend and are headed back to Denver on Tuesday.

“It’s been way better than I thought it was going to be,” Weaver said. “I thought it was going to be a lot of delays, long security lines and crowded areas everywhere we go, but it’s been very very smooth and great.”

Tuesday morning had a steady flow of travelers, but Wednesday will be a challenge, said Sabrina LoPiccolo, a spokesperson for the San Diego International Airport.

“We’re expecting about 20% more passengers through the terminal than we’ve seen on an average day in November,” LoPiccolo said. “So, most of the people we’re anticipating are going to be flying the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving.”

Passenger and dog arrive at the San Diego International Airport.png
Carlos Castillo
Omaha native Katarina Nelson and her pup Butters wait for their baggage after they arrived at the San Diego International Airport for the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 23, 2021.

Airport personnel are constantly cleaning the high-touch areas, and there are stickers on the ground to encourage social distancing when possible. There are also plexiglass stanchions in check-in areas.

“Face masks are required,” LoPiccolo said. “There is a federal mandate in place. So, even if you’re outside, inside and on the airplane, you’re going to have to wear a mask.”

LoPiccolo recommends preparing ahead of your flight, especially getting to the airport — and remember to pack your patience.

“Right now, there’s some traffic going on with the water main breaking (at State Route 163 and Interstate 5), so that’s been delaying a little bit,” she said. “Also if you are going to be parking at the airport, we strongly suggest making reservations in advance on our website, which is That way you don’t have to worry about it. You have your place.”

If you are still figuring out the best way to get to the airport, there is a new complimentary electric shuttle service that runs seven days a week, every 20-30 minutes.

“It’s called the San Diego Flyer and it picks up and drops off at the airport, both terminal one and two and the Old Town Transit Center," she said. "So anybody that is taking the Amtrak or MTS bus, trolley, can connect from the Old Town transit center and then jump on the San Diego Flyer and come directly to the airport.”

The San Diego Flyer shuttle buses have a branded light orange wrap with plane icons, the word “Flyer” across the side of the buses, and the SAN logo.

The EV shuttles are equipped with air conditioning, luggage racks, and an ADA ramp.

You can check out the Old Town Transit Center shuttle schedule here.

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