Cincinnati Enquirer / Brooks Sutherland / November 19, 2021
Holiday travel through Greater Cincinnati is expected to return close to 2019 levels during Thanksgiving, one year after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised American travelers to stay home amid COVID-19 spikes.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport estimates around 180,000 to 190,000 inbound and outbound travelers will pass through the airport from Nov. 25 to Dec. 2 this year.
CVG said Thanksgiving travel volume will be at 90% to 95% of 2019 levels. The busiest days will likely be Wednesday, Nov. 24, and Sunday, Nov. 28. The busiest times for departures are between 5 and 7 a.m.
This year, the CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. If vaccinated, masks are still required during travel. If not vaccinated, the agency recommends getting tested before and after travel in addition to mask-wearing while flying.
Here's what you should expect if traveling through CVG this holiday season.
Federal airport mask mandate
Masks are required regardless of vaccination status when traveling at an airport in the U.S. The federal regulation, which was set to expire in September, was extended until January 2022, a few days before the deadline. The mandate is enforced through the federal Transportation Security Administration, and non-compliance can prevent the boarding of a plane or cause a passenger's removal from a plane if deemed necessary.
Most individuals traveling internationally to the United States must be vaccinated per a White House order signed in October.
Children under 18 are exempt from the order, and non-tourist travelers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% are also eligible for exemption, but are asked to become vaccinated within 60 days of arrival to the U.S.
Traveling after recovering from COVID-19
Individuals who recovered from the virus may travel if they have tested positive in the last 90 days and have met criteria to end isolation.
Concessions and contactless ordering
Participating restaurants at CVG offer contactless ordering that can be accessed by scanning a QR code on site.
Concession offerings and hours of operation vary each day depending on flight activity and staffing at CVG. To access daily concession schedules and offerings, visit https://www.cvgairport.com/flight/tips/flyhealthy/concessions.
REAL ID requirement
The deadline to obtain a government-issued "REAL ID" card was pushed back once again due to the pandemic. The new deadline to secure a compliant identification card is May 3, 2023.
The previous deadline was slated for Oct. 1, 2021. Passengers who do not have a REAL ID card can still travel over the holidays, but beginning on the new deadline, every American air traveler 18 years or older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver's license, a state-issued enhanced license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification in order to travel domestically.
For those needing testing to be compliant with certain travel regulations, such as travel to the United States from an international location, CVG has partnered with Skyology Lab to offer on-site testing at the airport. The lab is open to both travelers and the general public.
Fees for testing at the airport are molecular (PCR) tests with results available on-site within 35 minutes ($200 per test), RAPID antigen tests with results available within 20 minutes ($150 per test), and serology test with results available within 20 minutes ($75 per test).
The Skyology Lan does not accept health insurance as a way of payment. Payment can be made online for pre-registered appointments. A driver's license, passport, or other official photo ID is required at the time of testing.
New rental car facility is open
A consolidated rental car facility at CVG opened last month, connecting the rental center to a terminal for easier access.
At the center's Ground Transport West, travelers can access valet services, CVG's ValuPark and Economy Lot Parking Shuttles, off-airport parking shuttles and hotel shuttles.
At Ground Transport East, travelers will have access to rideshare services, limousines, taxi services, employee shuttles, shared-ride vans, charter buses and public transit.
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