Millions of U.S. Thanksgiving holiday travelers defy COVID-19 warnings

Henrietta Brewer
November 24, 2020

But the travel insurance firm says those figures represent huge declines from just a year ago, which saw 55 million travelers for Thanksgiving.

Based on mid-October forecast models, AAA would have expected up to 50 million Americans to travel this week, a drop from 55 million in 2019.

United Airlines on Thursday said that it has seen some increase in flight cancellations and a drop-off in bookings with the rising number of Covid cases.

The CDC on Saturday said COVID-19 testing before and after worldwide travel can reduce risk and "make travel safer by reducing spread on planes, in airports and at destinations".

"With that in mind, AAA conducted a new poll asking New Jersey residents who have decided against traveling for the holiday whether COVID-19, specifically, was the reason - and 46% said yes".

"The decision to travel is a personal one", Paula Twidale, senior vice president for AAA Travel, said in a release. The second one should be done before the return trip and the third, three to five days after traveling.

Survey data suggest that most Americans are planning to stay close to home for turkey and football.

Plan ahead. Check with state and local authorities where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.

Still, many Americans are refusing to follow the health advice that could save their lives. Be sure to pack face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health.

Verify Before You Go. Ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions in common spaces, hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times and if all amenities are available, like restaurant dining. Hertz, for example, has introduced Hertz Gold Standard Clean, an enhanced vehicle disinfectant and sanitization process. And those who do take to the roads will be rewarded not only with a little less traffic, but cheap gas prices.

In addition, Mike Compton, CEO of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, said that the managers of the controlled-access roadway anticipate "fewer cars on our roadway than in prior years" during the Thanksgiving holiday, which traditionally begins Tuesday evening and lasts until Sunday. While Friday was just the second day that air traffic surpassed 1 million domestically since March, the same day past year had 2.5 million travelers.

On Monday, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn told reporters that ridership demand this year was about 20% that for last Thanksgiving, which saw the "greatest level of demand" ever for the holiday.

"Drivers are likely to find the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in 12 years", said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group.

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