Holiday travelers expected to pack airports despite CDC warnings

The CDC has recommended "postponing travel and staying home" during the holiday season, as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country. 

Orlando International Airport expects 775,000 travelers to pass through its terminals from mid-December to early January.

The busiest day for Christmas departures is expected to be Dec. 27. Jan. 3 is expected to be the busiest day for New Year departures.

On Christmas Eve, crowds started off small early in the morning, but officials expect to get busier as the day goes on.

RELATED: Flight radar animation shows pre-Christmas air traffic

The CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Phil Brown, said travel is down about 50 percent from this time last year.

"I don’t know that we’ll make up for the losses," Brown said. "I mean, we’re in a pretty deep hole. Our goal is to gradually bring back the traffic, get back up, and continue to grow and try to reach where we were and then hopefully grow some more."

Staff said they are making sure everything is clean and passengers are following CDC guidelines while they are flying.

Passenger figures from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for December 22 showed a steep decline in pre-holiday air travel compared to 2019, but a rise over earlier periods this year.