DALLAS , -- Millions of Americans are determined to return Thanksgiving traditions that were halted last year due to the pandemic. They will load up their cars and board planes to travel again with their friends and family.
This week's air travel is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels. Auto club AAA predicts that at least 48.3 Million people will travel at most 50 miles from their homes over the holiday period. This is despite higher gasoline prices.
Nearly 200 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. This is a source of pride for many. It also means that we can ignore concerns about a resurgent disease at a moment when the U.S. is experiencing an average of nearly 100,000 new infections per day, and hospitals in Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado, and Colorado are witnessing alarming increases.
According to Johns Hopkins University figures, the seven-day average daily number of cases reported has increased by nearly 30% over the past two weeks. U.S. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who are not vaccinated should not travel. However, it isn't clear if this recommendation is being followed.
Last Friday was the busiest day since last year's pandemic, when more than 2.2 million people rushed through airport security checkpoints. Between Friday and Tuesday, more than twice as many people flew in the United States than in the same period last year. It was also less than 9% higher than in 2019.
Christian Titus, a New Jersey native, was flying to Canada with extended family at Newark Liberty International Airport. Titus claims he has spent most of the pandemic in his home, but is happy to fly on a crowded plane because he misses being with his family. To increase his protection, he received a booster shot.
He said, "My mental health is better if I am around my family during these time." "Yeah, it's dangerous. You love these people and do your best to keep them safe.
Meka Starling and her husband were thrilled to have many family members meet Kaiden, their 2-year-old son at their first Thanksgiving gathering in Linden (New Jersey).
Starling, 44, from West Point, Mississippi, said that while they have posted photos on Facebook, many people have seen them. But to be able to touch and talk with him is what excites him.
Airlines are trying to prevent another round of massive flight cancellations, more than 2,300 each -- which plagued Southwest as well as American Airlines at various times last month.
Bad weather in one region of the country caused the breakdowns and then spiraled out of control. Airlines used to have enough flight attendants, pilots, and other workers to get through many disruptions in a matter of days. However, they find it more difficult to bounce back after a year of losing thousands of workers to the collapse of travel.
American, Southwest and Delta have all been hiring recently, giving industry observers and airlines hope that flights will continue to move forward this week.
Helane Becker, an analyst for Cowen who works with airlines, stated that "the airlines are ready for the holidays." They have cut down the number of flights. The industry has enough pilots. They are also putting more flight attendants through (training) academies. And they are paying premiums to flight attendants -- what I will call hazardous-duty pay -- in order to encourage people to not blow off work.
Airlines have very little room for error at the moment. American expects to fill over 90% of its seats on Tuesday with paying customers. This is a throwback from holiday travel prior to the pandemic.
Dennis Tajer, a pilot with the airline and spokesperson for the American pilots union, stated that there isn't much room for people to be put on another flight in the event of an emergency.
According to FlightAware, about 70 flights had been canceled by American airlines on Wednesday, which is an unusually low figure. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were very few airports that experienced significant delays.
President of Southwest's pilots union, Casey Murray, stated that things were going well as of Wednesday morning. He stated that he hadn't received reports for major incidents involving passengers who were disruptive in the past several days.
Murray stated that he doesn't believe anything will make video. Murray said, "That's just another layer on stress, complexity, and fatigue on top everything else."
Many hundreds of passengers waited in security lines at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. They zigzagged around in half-a dozen loops as they waited. With all the seats taken, passengers sat on floors while they waited for their flight. In the midst of a strike by some Phoenix airport workers over wages and benefits, there were long lines to get food.
Rasheeda Golden, her boyfriend and sister arrived at Denver's airport to embark on a snowmobiling trip.
"It's exciting now to travel, especially with things opening up, some sense normalcy going. She said, "I welcome it."
Golden stated that flying is not something she worries about, but that she is cautious around "a group of too many people."
She said, "As long we have our masks on I've done my bit," "The rest is to have fun on my vacation."
Holiday travelers traveling by car will feel the most pain from higher fuel prices. AAA reported that Tuesday's national average gasoline price was $3.40 per gallon. This is more than 60% higher than last Thanksgiving.
These prices could be among many factors that discourage holiday travelers. Gasbuddy, which monitors pump prices, found that half of those who responded to an app survey said high prices would affect their travel plans for this week. Two-fifths of respondents said that they don't plan to make as many trips because of a variety reasons.
On Tuesday President Joe Biden ordered 50,000,000 barrels of oil to be released from America's strategic reserves in order to lower energy costs. This was done in coordination with other large energy-consuming countries. This U.S. action is not only aimed at the global energy markets but also to help Americans cope with rising inflation and prices ahead of Thanksgiving holiday travel.
Tye Reedy flew from Tennessee to California and borrowed a friend's truck to go sightseeing. The Chevron in Alameda charged $5 per gallon for gas, while it cost $100 to fill the truck.
Reedy stated that last year, because of COVID restrictions, Reedy did not travel. "But, you know what, we are confident enough... with vaccine and where things stand now with the virus that we feel comfortable traveling."