Travelers collect their luggage at Newark International Airport on Saturday in Newark, NJ AFPGetty Images
PROVIDENCE, RI – Millions of Americans bought tickets to fly somewhere for Thanksgiving before the nation’s leading public health agency begged them not to travel for the holidays.
So what are they doing now? In many cases, they still clutter airports and boarding planes. This is despite the relatively lenient cancellation policies the major airlines have implemented since the coronavirus pandemic emerged earlier this year.
“Consumers should feel comfortable changing their plans and canceling their flights if they need to for health reasons,” said John Breyault of the National Consumers League.
Most airlines won’t pay cash to reimburse a flight if you decide to heed national health warnings, but they waive the fee and offer vouchers. Breyault said to “be familiar with the policies” because the details of the voucher vary by airline and may depend on when the ticket was booked.
It is not known how many people take these vouchers. Images that emerged over the weekend of crowded airport terminals showed a lot of people are flying anyway.
More than 2 million people were screened at U.S. airports on Friday and Saturday, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Although much lower than the same time last year, Friday was only the second time since mid-March that daily airport checks have exceeded one million.
A day earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans should avoid Thanksgiving travel and not spend the holidays with people outside their homes. The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday he was concerned that cases of overcrowding at US airports due to Thanksgiving travel could lead to a perilous situation as COVID- cases 19 increase.
Fauci told CBS “Face the Nation” that people at airports “are going to cause us even more problems than we are now.” He said new Thanksgiving COVID-19 cases would not become evident until weeks later, making it “very difficult” as the virus spirals out of control as colder weather approaches and the season approaches. December holidays.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, which go away within two to three weeks. For some – especially the elderly and people with existing health problems – it can lead to more serious illnesses, including pneumonia and death.
Airlines have insisted on what they are doing to sanitize doors and kiosks, shorten lines and gatherings, and clean the air. But most also offer people the option to skip their vacation flight and travel later, although travelers might have to pay more for the replacement flight if it is more expensive.
For those still traveling, the TSA said it had braced for an increase in traffic this week, increasing staff to reduce lines and maintain social distancing.
“We have been frequently handling passenger volumes reaching over 900,000 passengers per day since early October,” the agency said in a statement sent on Sunday.