TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Thousands of people are packing airports across the country to fly back home after Christmas, and Tampa is already feeling the pressure of the post-holiday rush.
Workers at Tampa International Airport expect about twice their normal traffic from now through this weekend, anticipating 80,000 to 83,000 passengers daily, according to spokesperson Emily Nipps.
There was a steady line of cars picking up and dropping off family and friends Thursday, including Tampa Bay resident Bruce Crockett.
“We're here to pick up my wife's lifelong friend Cathy. She's coming down, and she's bringing her and her grandson down for a few days,” said Crockett.
TIA will be fully staffed to handle the hustle of travelers. Among those working are TSA agents and air traffic controllers who are currently putting in hours without pay due to a partial government shutdown.
“I think some passengers are nervous that the shutdown might cause some issues at airports. But TSA officers are essential employees, so we're fully staffed at our TSA checkpoints,” said Nipps.
Some employees took to the social media hashtag “shutdown stories” to share their personal concerns, naming families to care for, mortgages to pay and food to put on the table.
“I’m empathic. I don't think anyone would want to be in that situation,” said Dawn Williams, an airport traveler from Wisconsin.
Also adding stress to the post-holiday travel is the weather. Some passengers are now spending more time at the airport due to storms up north and in the Midwest.
“The rest of our family we were traveling with, their flight was delayed a couple of hours,” said Williams.
If you have family or friends flying out of Tampa through Sunday, airport officials recommend you get there two hours early. Airport workers are also warning drivers not to circle the airport, which causes traffic congestion. Instead, officials encourage people to wait at the cell phone lot or park at the short-term parking garage, which is free for one hour.