BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The day before Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest travel days of the year.

While fewer people flew somewhere for the holiday last year due to the pandemic, travelers are once again expected to take the skies in droves this year now that vaccines are widely available.

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The Transportation Security Administration anticipates airports will be crowded over the next few days. Similarly, AAA expects 71,000 Marylanders to travel for the holiday, up 12% from last year.

To find out how that will impact you and your loved ones, WJZ visited BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport on Wednesday to check things out. It was a busy morning at the airport.

“It’s one of the necessary evils,” Willie Leebel of Calvert County said. “Not necessarily travel, but we just want to get with some family for the holidays.”

Nationwide, AAA said 4.2 million people will fly for the holidays this year. That’s a major increase compared to 2.3 million who flew during the same time last year.

The organization said more people feel comfortable taking the trip now, saying 10% of Marylanders believe traveling for the holiday presents a significant risk.

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“Mainly it’s because of COVID,” traveler Estefany Diaz said. “Everyone wants to see their families now after getting vaccinated [against COVID-19].”

While travelers like Diaz found BWI was packed Wednesday morning, the crowds had died down by lunchtime.

“It looks empty,” Brittany Lambert of Baltimore said. “We were told it was packed, so we were like, ‘Let’s go.'”

Travelers who spoke with WJZ wore masks, among other safety precautions. They weren’t taking any chances with their health or that of their loved ones.

“I just wanted to be concerned, especially for my mom,” Diaz said. “She’s an elder, so I don’t want her to get sick or anything.”

Even though things slowed down during the day, airport workers told WJZ they expect BWI to be busier come Saturday and Sunday.

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So, they recommend you still give yourself an early start to make sure you catch your flight.

Jessica Albert