US air journey hits a pandemic-era excessive over Thanksgiving vacation
(CNN) – While Thanksgiving travel was certainly a lot easier than usual, US air travel on the vacation hit its highest level since mid-March, and millions of Americans were still traveling by car to join family and friends.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, more people passed the security checkpoints at the US airport on Sunday than on any other day since the coronavirus pandemic.
TSA said it examined 1.17 million people on Sunday as many Americans walked home from their Thanksgiving trips. That was 41% of the 2.9 million people who were screened by TSA on the same day in 2019. Thanksgiving 2019 set a TSA record.
That means more than 9.4 million people were screened in the Thanksgiving travel window, which began on the Friday before the holidays.
Since the pandemic in mid-March, checkpoints have screened more than a million passengers in just five days. Four occurred during the Thanksgiving holiday season.
Travel raises fears about the transmission of Covid-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against Thanksgiving travel as they feared families would mingle to spread the virus.
Public health officials this weekend recommended that those who traveled for Thanksgiving should quarantine and get tested for the coronavirus as cases increase nationwide.
White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Sunday she was “deeply concerned”. Thanksgiving trips would cause another surge in viruses.
“We know people may have made mistakes … during the Thanksgiving period,” she said in a Sunday interview on CBS. “If your family has traveled, assume that you are exposed and infected and that you really need to be tested for the next week.”
Airlines have argued that traveling on an airplane is very safe – safer than many other public spaces – as the hospital-grade air filtration and ventilation regularly replaces the air in the cabin.
However, fewer studies have been carried out on other parts of the air travel experience – including overcrowded airport routes and shuttle buses.
And then there is a risk of spreading when travelers arrive at their destination.
The car goes down significantly
A week before the holiday season began, the travel agency AAA forecast a decrease in total travel of at least 10% during the holiday period, which the organization defined as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after.
Of those forecast to travel, AAA predicted that 95% – nearly 48 million Americans – would travel by car.
Given the CDC’s anti-travel guidelines published just before the Americans left, and the continued surge in Covid-19 cases, AAA spokeswoman Julie Hall said on Nov. 19, “AAA assumes the real number the number of holiday travelers will be lower than forecast. “
AAA won’t have actual numbers for some time, Hall said.
However, data from Arrivalist tracking GPS signals depicting consumer road trips of 50 miles or more in the United States indicates a 35% year-over-year decrease in Thanksgiving road trips.
These results mark a departure from previous holidays in 2020, such as July 4th and Labor Day, when road trips were close to or exceeded 2019 levels.
Arrivalist’s Daily Travel Index data on road trips shows that Thanksgiving was the least-traveled major holiday of the year and had fewer road trip activity than Memorial Day.
The data was compiled from trips started on Wednesday 25 November or Thursday 26 November compared to the same days of vacation week last year.
“Travel by private car – widely regarded as one of the safest and most available means of vacation travel during the pandemic – had started to establish itself as a leading indicator of travel recovery,” Cree Lawson, CEO of Arrivalist, said in a Explanation.
“That seems to have taken a back seat to people’s desire to protect themselves and each other from a flood of Covid 19 cases.”
CNN’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report.