Portland International Airport expects up to a half-million people will travel through the airport during Thanksgiving week, up dramatically from about 200,000 passengers during the holiday week a year ago.

Overall, passenger volumes remain well below where they were before the pandemic. About 1.2 million people flew through PDX in October, down 29% from the same month two years ago. Nationally, air travel was down 21% from October 2019.

The industry’s rebound has been intermittent since April 2020, with a slowdown last winter and again this summer, each coinciding with rising rates of COVID-19 infections. But this Thanksgiving could represent an inflection point as travelers seek to reunite with friends and family and resume their holiday traditions.

The Port of Portland, which runs the airport, expects the busiest travel days will be the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving. Officials forecast more than 48,000 passengers each day, down from about 55,000 in 2019.

That’s a decrease of just 16%, which suggests a strong desire to travel — and that airport crowds will be back in volumes Portland hasn’t experienced since before the pandemic. And it comes as PDX undertakes a massive terminal remodel, which is creating obstacles for flyers and changing the way people get around the airport.

Traveling to Concourse D, for example, requires an additional 3 to 5 minutes of walking because of a new hallway that bypasses a construction site.

And not all concourses are connected to one another behind security lines any longer. So if you go through the wrong security line, you will have to start all over and go back through a new line to get to your flight.

That means travelers are once again advised to arrive a full two hours before their flight time to give themselves time to get through security and make their way to their gate. And the airport’s parking lots — often empty during the pandemic, sometimes repurposed as mass vaccination sites — are once again filling up.

PDX’s economy lots already were 71% full on Tuesday evening and likely to get more crowded as the holiday approaches. So travelers might do well to check the status of each lot online before they set out, and to adjust their plans accordingly.

Sign up for our Daily Headlines newsletter

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.