Millions travelled for Thanksgiving despite CDC warnings – here's what it looked like

REUTERS/Kamil KrzaczynskiO’Hare.

This year, the CDC warned Americans that travelling for Thanksgiving could be dangerous, and advised that, “the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.” Despite the guidance, the day before Thanksgiving was the biggest air travel day since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to an Insider survey, 37% of people did not plan to change how they celebrated Thanksgiving this year. They travelled on planes, trains, and buses around the country, despite pleas from the CDC. The US’ infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned that airports and other travel would be a source of infection.

“That’s what’s going to get us into even more trouble,” he said, warning Americans.

Take a look at what it was like travelling for Thanksgiving during a pandemic.


The TSA reported 1,070,967 travellers on November 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

Kamil Krzaczynski/ReutersO’Hare International Airport.

Source: TSA


It was the busiest air travel day since March 16.

REUTERS/Kamil KrzaczynskiO’Hare airport.

Last year, 2,624,250 passed through TSA checkpoints the day before Thanksgiving, so traffic was down about 40%.

REUTERS/Mike SegarNewark Airport.

Source: Business Insider


“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said on a call earlier in November.

Carlo Allegri/ReutersGrand Central.

Source: Business Insider


“Airports have constant traffic going through them with travellers coming to and from various locations around the globe…we cannot be sure everyone is using the same precautions as we are, nor if they have been advised to,” emergency medicine physician and K Health’s chief diagnosis office Neil Brown told Business Insider.

REUTERS/Hannah McKayReagan National Airport.

Source: Business Insider


The greatest risk in airports and in flying comes from interacting with people closely, more than infected surfaces.

REUTERS/Hannah McKayReagan International Airport.

Airports across the country implemented strategies to minimise potential infections.

REUTERS/Kamil KrzaczynskiO’Hare.

Some airports, like Seattle-Tacoma International in Washington, removed many of the seats at gates to encourage distancing.

REUTERS/Kamil KrzaczynskiO’Hare.

Source: Business Insider


Other airports added facial recognition technology to let passengers minimise human contact before boarding.

REUTERS/Hannah McKayReagan International Airport.

Source: Business Insider


Masks are mandatory in many airports and on all US airlines, and some have also reduced food and beverage service.

REUTERS/Mike SegarNewark Airport.

“What we’re concerned about is not only the actual mode of travel, whether it’s an aeroplane or a bus or a car … but also it’s the transportation hubs,” Walke said.

AP Photo/Mary AltafferPenn Station.

Source: Business Insider


People lining up to board trains, planes, and buses are often crowded, which can be dangerous, Walke said.

AP Photo/John MinchilloLaGuardia.

Source: Business Insider


Some travel hubs also became sites for rapid COVID testing.

REUTERS/Carlo AllegriPenn Station.

Source: Gothamist


At Penn Station, travellers could self administer rapid tests.

REUTERS/Carlo AllegriPenn Station.

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