Oakland International Airport sees peak travel numbers during Thanksgiving week

photo of a plane taking off
Antonio Martin/Staff
There were 148,000 departures from Oakland International Airport from Nov. 19 to 28, which is more than twice as many as last year.

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The number of travelers departing from Oakland International Airport, or OAK, more than doubled this Thanksgiving compared to last year during the pandemic.

From Nov. 19 to 28, there were 148,000 departures from the airport, which is more than twice the number of departures made in 2020 and 77.5% of departures made in 2019. According to the Port of Oakland website, travel numbers came close to pre-pandemic levels Nov. 21 at 86.3%.

Nearly 17,300 people departed from the airport the day before Thanksgiving, the Port of Oakland website states. Sunday departures followed closely with nearly 17,200 people flying. Thanksgiving day had the least number of travelers with about 10,600 departures.

While this year’s Thanksgiving holiday week was a busy one for OAK, careful coordination and cooperation between airlines and security partners were made throughout the period, according to a Local News Matters article.

“I took a trip to Los Angeles from OAK,” said UC Berkeley freshman Tyler Chen. “The airport was very busy, but airport officials were on top of making sure everyone followed the mandatory mask mandate and wore their masks correctly, so I felt pretty comfortable then.”

In addition to following the mandatory mask mandate, the airport adheres to the Alameda County Health Office guidelines by enforcing social distancing and providing touchless hand sanitizing stations, according to the OAK website. Since March, OAK has enacted a disinfecting program targeting high traffic areas and continues to bolster its airport cleaning efforts.

According to San Francisco International Airport, or SFO, spokesperson Doug Yakel, OAK is not the only airport that experienced a peak in travel numbers during the holiday season.

“During the Thanksgiving holiday, SFO experienced the highest levels of passenger activity since the pandemic began, exceeding 50,000 departing passengers through our security checkpoints on multiple days,” Yakel said in an email.

SFO has also implemented several COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including social distancing, enhanced cleaning and on-site testing and vaccination, Yakel added.

However, despite both airports following safety protocols, the emergence of the omicron variant has prompted increased fears of traveling in people, including Chen.

“I feel worried, but I must say it’s because of how uncertain things are right now; I mean for all we know this could cause another huge wave of COVID-19,” Chen said. “Or it could just be another variant that’s manageable as long as people respect and follow COVID protocol.”

Contact Phoebe Chen at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @ph0ebechen.