Chicago airports grapple with busy travel week amid Omicron variant spike

Air passengers probably made their travel arrangements before the current surge of COVID-19 and the spread of the Omicron variant but the virus was on the mind of travelers as they prepared to take off for the holidays.

This year, there are twice as many air passengers as last year. Thursday is expected be the busiest travel day. 

United estimates 72,000 people will go through Terminal One on that day alone. 

With Omicron circulating, health officials advise the public to avoid crowds. But that was not easy at O’Hare, where lines were long with families eager to gather for Christmas. 


Omar Idris, United Airlines VP of Operations, said the airline has a vaccination mandate for employees. 

Most travelers are vaccinated and boosted, and wearing masks and trying to social distance. Idris said these protocols have made air travel safe.

Airline officials remind passengers to arrive at the airport extra early. With so many people traveling, many who haven’t flown in a while, getting to the airport, through security and on to the destination, can take longer.