Despite a second wave of COVID-19 cases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging Americans not to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Sunday after Turkey Day was the busiest airports have been since mid-March when the pandemic began altering everyday life in the United States.
According to a recent survey, and despite tightening COVID-19 restrictions in cities across the country, a larger percentage of people say they plan to travel for December holidays in the coming weeks. In fact, one in three Americans surveyed by The Vacationer said they plan to travel for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.
The checkpoint data from the Transportation Security Administration tells us that 1.18 million travelers went through airport security screening on Nov. 29. That’s down from 2.88 million on the same day in 2019, but much higher than in the spring when, on some days, fewer than 100,000 people were screened. Road trip travel is harder to track. But an analysis from Arrivalist shows road trip travel over the Thanksgiving holiday was down 35 percent from last year.
Of the 553 Americans queried for a recent survey published by The Vacationer, 33.46 said they planned to travel for Christmas compared to the 20.3 percent of those who said they had Thanksgiving travel plans.
The Vacationer’s survey was done by Eric Jones, the co-founder and head of operations at the site who uses his background in mathematics as a professor at Rowan College South Jersey to conduct statistical studies and surveys on traveling and vacation.
Coast to coast, from San Francisco International Airport to John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York, a growing number of airports are offering COVID-19 rapid tests. XpresSpa, which once opened manis, pedis and massages in airport terminals for on-the-go travelers, has pivoted to being a wellness center with rapid COVID-19 testing. The XpresCheck centers also offer flu shots.
Airlines, including JetBlue, Hawiian Airlines, United and American Airlines, have also announced that they will begin offering pre-flight coronavirus tests. Negative tests could be a pass for travelers to skip quarantine at their destinations.
According to The Vacationer’s survey results, 12.3 percent of participants said they would travel for Thanksgiving. For Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, 16.46 percent said they planned to travel. Seventeen percent of respondents said they would travel for both Thanksgiving and the December holidays.
The results show that younger respondents are more likely to travel. As the age of respondents to the survey increased, they were more likely to say they would not be traveling this holiday season. The granular data shows 34.40 percent of people aged 18-29 responded that they wouldn’t travel compared to 69.72% of people over the age of 60.
Many of those surveyed—45 percent—cited pandemic fatigue as increasing their interest in travel, whether or not they’ll actually hop on a plane or go on a road trip.
In a question that asked: “Are you more or less likely to go on a vacation or travel to see family compared to March/April?” nearly one-quarter of respondents said “more likely” and 31 percent said “about the same.”
Will you be traveling this holiday season?