NORFOLK, Va. - Holiday travel numbers are likely headed for a downturn this year, experts say, but that doesn't mean airports will be empty.
Norfolk International Airport saw long lines of masked people waiting to check in at the American Airlines counter early Wednesday morning.
The carrier had several flights scheduled to take off between the 6 a.m.-7 a.m. hour.
Those in line were wearing masks, but there wasn't much social distancing between individuals. The airport has signs posted through the terminal reminding travelers about COVID-19 mask and social distancing requirements.
The airport emptied out quickly after early flights took off, but not before Chris Decker of Los Angeles got in line for United Airlines around 6 a.m. with his guitar and surfboard in-hand.
He told News 3 he was traveling to spend the holiday in El Salvador, but the Hampton Roads native spent a few days with family first.
"I'm a little nervous about traveling," he said. "I flew from Los Angeles to Norfolk on the 18th, Friday, and it was empty. The airports were empty, it was a breeze going through check-in, everything was super easy. The easiest I've ever had and now today is a different story."
Decker is one of 84 million Americans AAA predicts will travel from December 23 to January 3. That's a 29 percent decrease from last year. Air travel in particular is expected to drop around 60 percent.
The CDC is recommending people not travel for the holidays this year.
Norfolk International Airport has reported a 55 percent drop in passenger count from January to November 2020 compared to the same period last year.