Friday and Saturday were two of the busiest days at the United States airports since the pandemic began in March, despite the CDC recommending against traveling for Thanksgiving and a record number of new COVID-19 positive cases.
More than 1 million travelers at US airports were screened by the TSA on Friday, while screenings on Saturday fell just short of that mark, but were enough to bring the total to 2 million.
That is still only 42% of the total volume screened the same dates a year ago. But because of the pandemic, they were marked as two of the busiest days for United States airport traffic since March.
This rush of travelers comes on Friday, where Johns Hopkins University reported a new breaking record of 195,542 US COVID-19 cases, which came the day after the Center for Disease Control issued its plea against traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.
On Thursday, the United Airlines said that they have seen an increase in flight cancellations and a decrease in bookings. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines also reported that their bookings have declined, although they have yet to report any rise in canceled reservations.
Even so, the airlines in the United States are preparing for their busiest week since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. American Airlines Stated that they will increase their schedule by about 15% this Thanksgiving week, compared to their schedule for the rest of November. From their daily average flight schedule of 3,500, American Airlines will increase it to more than 4,000 flights.
US airlines insist that the exchange of fresh air in the cabins throughout the flight, the hospital-quality air filters used today, and the cleaning protocols used between flights make it safe for travelers to fly even during a pandemic outbreak. They also said that passengers should wear masks and practice social distancing to avoid virus transmission.
However, the Center for Disease Control’s concern is not about the transmission of virus during the flight. Their concern is that large, indoor family gatherings during Thanksgiving holidays may spread cases of the disease even more, especially with hospitals in different parts of the United States already at their full capacity – treating infected patients.
According to the head of the industry’s trade group, the airline industry is neither discouraging or encouraging people to travel for the Thanksgiving holidays. The CEO of Airlines for America, Nick Calio, also stated that they want to see people travel if it is safe for them, and that there’s a variety of factors involved in that decision for every traveler.
The holidays will definitely be different this year because of the pandemic. As mentioned earlier, millions of people already bought tickets to travel for the holidays before CDC pleaded not to travel because of the pandemic.
However, Americans are still boarding planes and crowding airports despite the relatively lenient cancellation policies that major US airlines have implemented since the outbreak began.
Yes, most airlines won’t pay cash to travelers who want to get a refund. But they are offering vouchers and waiving fees for those who want to cancel their flights and decide to pay attention to national health warnings.