SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Salt Lake International Airport saw plenty of passengers the weekend before Thanksgiving, but not as many as usual.
Approximately 10,000 passengers left on departing flights each day, according to airport officials.
They expected about 12,000 people to take off from the airport on Wednesday, the busiest Thanksgiving travel day, which is down from 24,000 on the same day last year.
"Hoping everyone can follow procedures," said traveler Fale Lomu who returned home from Michigan.
At Salt Lake International, the newly-constructed airport is bigger, but the crowds were much smaller on Saturday and Sunday.
"I came home to a big show," said Lomu.
"It's good to see low numbers," said traveler Nick Richards.
CDC officials recommended avoiding unnecessary travel this holiday season.
Top epidemiologists predicted Americans traveling to large Thanksgiving gatherings will be harmful in the end.
"I would rather protect my family versus take the chances, you know?" said Richards. "We all have grandparents, we all have parents — and to make the sacrifices now to have years down the line to be with those people, there's no question."
For some weekend travelers, they decided to hold Thanksgiving early to avoid the large crowds.
"We had a special trip this time because we just got engaged," said TJ Treasure.
TJ Treasure and his fiance, Kimberly Arnoldus, were traveling back to their homes in California.
"Yeah, I am spoiled," said Arnoldus.
The couple said they won't soon forget their pandemic engagement.
"We're looking to plan our wedding right now – and we wanted to see our family over the holidays," said Treasure. "I didn't really want the things going on this year to stop us from doing that."
Salt Lake International Airport officials have adopted a "fly healthy promise" that includes extra sanitizing stations, required masks, and plexiglass out into place.
State health officials warned that traveling to attend large gatherings could easily spike the already current high COVID numbers.