WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Millions of Americans are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, despite the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning people about the COVID-19 risk. In fact, airports are seeing the highest travel volume since mid-March.
At Palm Beach International Airport, leaders are estimating 60,000 to 70,000 passengers in and out of the airport during the holiday week. They project Saturday through Monday to be the busiest days for departures.
Airport leaders also told WPTV they are down roughly 55-60% in passenger traffic for the month of November. However, those numbers change rapidly as more airlines have flexible cancellation policies.
Travelers that WPTV spoke to said they are comfortable flying.
"We had our test before we got here, we’re both negative. We have to show that at the airport going there to New York and then getting tested again," said Gilda Dedona. "It's a bit of an inconvenience but I think its a good safety precautions."
If you are choosing to fly, the airport wants to remind travelers to wear a mask at all times, social distance when possible, wash your hands frequently and don't travel if you are sick.
Palm Beach International Airport also has limited concessions available and no economy shuttle service at this time. All parking lots are open. As always, check with your airline for flight status changes.
According to AAA, the number of Americans expected to fly this year is about half of last year, which would be the biggest one year decline on record. While travel is down across the board, the difference in road travel from last year to this year is not as significant. In fact, in Florida, AAA predicts less than a one percent difference in travel on the roads.
Mark Jenkins with AAA recommends no matter how you travel, you do your research on your destination before you leave home.
"Find out how many cases are there, find out if cases are surging, if there are any requirements for quarantining before during or after your trip, requirements for masks," he said. "AAA urges people who do decide to travel to do so safely. Wear a mask, social distance when you can and bring cleaning supplies in your suitcase."
Jenkins said plan out your route, if you are driving, with the fewest stops possible, and pack extra meals and snacks.
"The roads are going to look very similar to how they looked two years ago, based on the numbers we are forecasting," Jenkins said. "So not a huge dip overall, so I would still expect congestion in the popular areas."
Gas prices are one bright spot this holiday season. AAA said they are about 40 cents less than they were last Thanksgiving and they could even be the lowest in 12 years.
AAA also recommends you make sure your car is in good working order before you head out on a road trip.
"You may not have had it serviced recently because of the pandemic, so pay close attention to your tires before you hit the road. They may be underinflated," Jenkins said. "Throughout the summertime, especially, people were a little bit hesitant to take a trip and those who did tend to do more regionalized travel, so this may be the longest journey some families have taken all year long."