By Andrea Nakano

OAKLAND (KPIX) — Some airports in the Bay Area are seeing their busiest day since the pandemic began as people get an early start to their Thanksgiving travel.

It is just a sliver of the heavy traffic expected next week.

A spokesperson with the Oakland International Airport said that roughly 36,000 people came in and out of the airport on Friday.

Waiting at the airport, Leigh Thompson held up a large photo to welcome home her son from Iowa. When asked what he thought of the homecoming, Kolven Thompson replied, “Pretty normal for my family.”

Air travelers at Oakland Int’l on Nov. 19, 2021. (CBS)

While Friday was the busiest day since the pandemic started, 170,000 travelers are expected to come through Oakland International Airport next week from Wednesday through Sunday. That will be double the traffic of last year’s Thanksgiving weekend.

“It’s getting back to normal — at least the new normal,” observed Terry Bohlke, who flew in from Nashville.

The new normal does still require passengers to wear masks. Many travelers say vaccinations have helped them feel more at ease flying and seeing loved ones again.

“Especially with the way things are going you want to make sure you spend as much time with people you know,” said Joey Neil. Nocon.

While there are twice as many travelers compared to last year, Oakland’s numbers are still only 80% of the 2019 Thanksgiving passenger count.