Thousands travel through San Diego airport for Christmas holiday

SAN DIEGO — The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is a little less this year because of the pandemic, but there were still plenty of travelers getting on last minute flights Thursday at San Diego International Airport.

Airport officials estimate that around 15,000 passengers will be coming and going through the airport on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Joseph Butchko is one of them.

“I’m coming home for Christmas,” said Butchko. “I was traveling to go visit family and a friend’s wedding in Colorado.”

Other people spotted at the airport on Christmas Eve were picking up family members who made the trip to San Diego for the holidays. 

“I’m picking up my dad,” said Marco Cruz. “He’s coming from Chicago.”

Cruz drove down from Riverside County to pick up his father. It was an emotional reunion, because they haven’t seen each other in 3 years. Cruz said his dad was recently diagnosed with cancer, so this trip to California means everything.

“We were not sure if he was going to come or not because of all that’s going on and his health, but he decided that it’s necessary for us to be together,” said Cruz.

Cheryl Coryell and her family are stationed in San Diego with the Marines. She was anxiously waiting for her mother’s flight to land from Philadelphia. She said she hasn’t seen her mom in quite a while due to coronavirus, so she was extremely excited when her mother decided to make the trip to the West Coast. 

“It’s really been a blessing that my mom is able to meet me here even during this pandemic,” said Coryell. “Being away from family is tough, so not to be able to spend any of the holiday together is really rough.”

Coryell’s 6-year-old son, Declan, came to the airport in a red Christmas tuxedo for the special occasion.

“He had to have his red suavecito tuxedo, because he likes the suavecito hair gel and he’s very excited to see his Mimi and his Aunt Jen,” Coryell explained. 

Holiday travel is down because of the pandemic. The American Automobile Club estimates that about 76% of the people in Southern California are staying home for the holiday, Most of those who decide to travel, about 5.5 million, will do so by car.

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