By Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4) – Officials say 203,000 people came through Denver International Airport on Wednesday as travelers continued to return to air travel, even with hospitalizations reaching highs in the state. Sunday after Thanksgiving is expected to be the biggest day since before the pandemic, with 206,000 travelers expected to pass through the airport.

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“We just flew in from Chicago.  It really wasn’t that bad,” said Adam Brenner who was bringing his family to see his brother and parents for Thanksgiving. “The airport’s not crowded, the flight wasn’t full. Out here the flights are pretty on time.”

All through the airport there were holiday hugs. Air Force Staff Sergeant Josh Kim brought his fiancé to meet his parents for the first time.

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“COVID’s been just tough times so it’s been pushing our schedule back,” he explained. “I was kind of nervous at first but it’s most definitely heartwarming.”

With center walls removed, navigation has generally improved. New ticketing areas showed gleaming floors and additional self-service ticketing machines.

Passenger pickup was going slowly at times. A line of cars stretched back a mile or more. Janet, a grandmother from New Jersey waiting for her son stood and watched.

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“20 minutes at least,” she said checking her watch.

The Pike’s Peak shuttle lot was open and the airport said it had devoted its 90 shuttle drivers to servicing the lot. In the evening, the wait was short when we observed it.

The Mt. Elbert lot would remain closed said airport spokeswoman Alex Renteria, until the Pikes Peak lot filled. Then they would move shuttle drivers to the Mt. Elbert and lessen the trips to Pikes Peak because it would be only drop-offs. The East economy lot and valet remain closed because of staffing shortages.

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DIA has now moved up on the scale of busiest airports, now ranked third, said Renteria, because it had fewer international flights to lose when international travel dropped. Pre-pandemic however the airport served as many as  69,000,000 travelers a year. The airports believes that could go to 100,000,000 a year in 10 or 15 years.


Alan Gionet