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San Diego Airport crowds grow heading into holiday travel weekend

Posted at 6:25 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 22:34:28-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The crowds at San Diego International Airport grew Friday night, as travelers kicked off the holiday travel weekend.

AAA predicts a record-breaking 115 million Americans will travel this holiday season, up nearly 4 percent from last year. Of those travelers, AAA estimates 105 million people will drive, 7 million will fly, and 4 million will take the train, bus, or cruise ships.

According to AAA, airports around the US will be busiest between Dec. 21 through 23. But the crowds should start to build Friday.

RELATED: This holiday season to set travel records, AAA says

10News spoke to many travelers going in and out of San Diego International Airport Friday. Melissa Flatley flew in from Reno, Nev. She said she wore her festive antler headband to make sure her sister does not lose her in the crowd.

"It's a little busy on a holiday weekend, so I just wanted for her to find me a little more easily!" Flatley laughed.

10News also met the Monje family. The San Diego family of five was headed to Jacksonville, Fla., to visit family. They said they were travel pros, who purposely wait until the last second to fly, thanks to father Joel's job at Southwest Airlines.

RELATED: AAA provides tips on preparing vehicles for holiday travel

"We fly standby, so it's always a little frazzled and anxious for us," Lisa Monje said. "But we're very thankful for our benefits. If we can get there on standby for free, hey, that's even better!"

Carlos Yu flew in from El Paso, Texas. He told 10News he's glad to be back home in Southern California and planning to take every form of transportation to make his rounds to see friends and family.

"I've actually never taken the train, so I'm super excited about that," Yu said. "I'm going to drive back down, actually again, so it's going to be a good two weeks."

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10News also met the Smith family, who was waiting for their two sons to come home. Their father, Joshua, is in the Navy, based in San Diego. Older brother, Malik, is in the Army. He flew in from El Paso. Middle brother, Jauan, is in the Air Force. He arrived from San Antonio. They all came together from bases all over the country to spend the holidays together at home.

"I literally cannot come home to see them until I have to leave to come and do it, so it means a lot. We all get together. It doesn't happen all the time," Jauan said.

Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance to make sure travelers had a festive and stress-free experience at the airport.