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Sky Harbor braces for holiday crowds despite CDC guidance not to travel

Staff are doing all they can to quell fears: UV Lights cleaning escalators; free hand sanitizer; free masks; even PPE vending machines.

PHOENIX — Although the CDC is advising people not to travel for Thanksgiving, staff at Sky Harbor is prepping for crowds and a lot of traffic over the next week.

"I gotta do what I gotta do," says traveler Tommy Salako, catching a flight early Saturday morning.

Salako says he's finally heading back home to Saudi Arabia after a long visit with his uncle in Arizona.  

He first touched down in March, right before the pandemic hit.  

He says a lot of his trip was spent in quarantine and he's eager to connect with his family again, even if it means 22 hours of travel on  threedifferent planes.

"I’ve got gloves and everything," he says through his face mask and shield. "I’m basically paranoid."

Staff at Sky Harbor are doing all they can to quell fears: UV Lights cleaning escalators, free hand sanitizer, free masks, PPE vending machines, even a plan underway to bring COVID-19 testing on-site.  

Officials say they'll have more information on how that will work next week.

At Sky Harbor and on most airlines masks are required. You’ll also want to know the rules wherever you’re landing.  

For Rhonda and Jimmy Turner – that’s Arkansas.

"I work in a hospital," Rhonda explains. "So, I’m very COVID aware."

One thing that surprised them was how cramped their plane was on the way in.  Some airlines are spacing seats out, while others are filling planes to capacity.

"I thought that's pretty close," says Jimmy.

They flew out to see Rhonda’s mother before the Thanksgiving rush.

"We did spray down Lysol and wipes before I could hug her. I didn’t want to take a chance of her getting it because she’s elderly."

A balance between risk and regret many families are forced to face this year.

"It’s been tough," Rhonda says.

The extra steps now will hopefully make things easier in the long run.

"If we gotta do it to make sure everyone stays safe, we gotta do it," says Salako.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Official Site