Many weary Americans eager to join family and friends for Thanksgiving face another risk calculation as they weigh scrapping travel plans at the last minute or going ahead as Covid-19 cases surge.
Gail Duilio, a retired public health nurse in Portland, Oregon, has canceled her flight to Minnesota for the holiday and her mother’s 93rd birthday.
Travel organization AAA has said that it expects at least a 10% drop in travel this Thanksgiving because of spiking coronavirus cases, shifting travel restrictions and calls by health and government officials for people to stay home.
Airline crew members and travelers at Washington Dulles International Airport on November 19, 2020.
Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images
Air travel is expected to see its largest one-year decrease on record for Thanksgiving, a nearly 48% drop, with just 2.4 million travelers expected to fly, according to the organization.
Julio Perez, a mechanical engineer from Palm Bay, Florida, expects to be among those flying. He has a Delta flight to Atlanta on Monday to see his mother.
“I’ll be taking sanitary wipes in a zip lock bag to clean surfaces and not touch door handles while at the airport. I will also be wearing a mask the whole time. Good thing the trip is only 1.5 hours of flight time,” he wrote in a message to CNN.
An ‘individual choice’
While air travel volume has been gutted by the pandemic, aviation officials are expecting that the holiday could set a pandemic-era passenger record.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske said he expects the busiest travel days will be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day and the Sunday afterward.
Aviation leaders called Thanksgiving travel an “individual choice” in a briefing on Thursday.
Passengers wait in line at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on October 19, the day after the total number of passengers screened by the TSA in a day reached one million for the first time since March.
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“We’re not encouraging people to travel. Do we want to see them travel? Yes, but only if it’s safe for them,” said Nick Calio, head of trade association Airlines for America. “There’s a variety of factors involved in that for each