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Holiday Travel In Full Swing At Area Airports Despite Omicron Surge

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Despite concerns over the Omicron surge, the Christmas travel rush is underway.

Experts predict it will be back to pre-pandemic levels, or greater, but at least one major factor may slow some things down.

As CBS2's John Dias reports, it has been busier than Santa's workshop at LaGuardia Airport this week.

"Heading home now, it's crazy," said traveler Zach Almond.

Web Extra: Tri-State Guide To Traffic & Transit

"Little bit inconvenient that an hour before flight, you have to wait in this line," said traveler Emily Victores.

Many are traveling to see loved ones after an isolated holiday season last year due to the COVID pandemic.

"I want to live my life again and just take precautions," said traveler Lynn Bell.

Despite the recent surge in COVID cases, fueled mostly by the Omicron variant, AAA says more than 110 million Americans will travel over the holidays.

Locally, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey estimates 10 million vehicles will use its bridges and tunnels, which is similar to the pre-pandemic period in 2019.

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Nearly five million air passengers are expected to utilize airports. While not many are canceling domestic flights, the Omicron variant is impacting international trips.

"But that doesn't mean they're going to not travel. In fact, they're rebooking on plan B or plan C of their destination in this country," said CBS News Senior Travel Advisor Peter Greenberg.

Greenberg also says staffing issues will likely cause significant delays.

"Still a problem at airports, airlines, hotels, restaurants, anywhere you need to go. They're not going to fix those staffing problems until March or April next year at the earliest," Greenberg said.

Domestic travel doesn't require a COVID test, but one father said he's testing his fully vaccinated teenage daughter the second she gets off her plane at JFK Airport for a visit.

"Her mom also said that she was feeling sick. So when she lands, I want to get her tested, and before she goes back, I want to get her tested, just in case," said Jamaica resident Raheem Bertrand.

This comes as Delta Air Lines is pleading for help to adjust COVID rules. In a letter, it asked the CDC to "reconsider the current guideline for 10 days of isolation in fully vaccinated" people who experience breakthrough COVID-19 infections, and making it a "five day isolation from symptom onset."

Health officials are now analyzing the risks.

With travel policies constantly changing, and drastically different depending on where you're traveling to, travel experts say don't rely on the internet, give a travel agent or a travel advisor a call, who can walk you through the latest.

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