ST. LOUIS – Two questions many holiday travelers had ahead of Thanksgiving during the pandemic: should I stay home? Or should I go visit family?
The day before Thanksgiving is known to be one of the busiest travel days of the year. St. Louis-Lambert international Airport reports there is steady foot traffic.
Gregory Johnson said the decision had been on his mind and he ultimately decided to go home to New Orleans.
“I’m very, very cautious. I wear my mask at all times, wash my hands profusely, have my wipes and hand sanitizer, so I’m good to go,” he said.
Despite a warning from Centers for Disease Control not to travel, people are choosing to travel while taking precautions.
As Americans embark on holiday travel, health officials say we could seed more COVID outbreaks.
St. Louis Airport expects a spike in travelers during the Thanksgiving holiday even as COVID cases rise across the country.
For Beth and Cole Bestgen, they too decided to make the trip to visit family. This time from Salt Lake City, Utah to St. Louis.
After already battling COVID themselves, they felt comfortable making the trip.
“We already had COVID a month ago so we have a little bit less chance of risk,” Cole said.
The passengers all plan to take necessary precautions while traveling. Johnson said he’ll get a rapid response test once he gets home.
The Bestgens agreed safety is what’s most important.
“Take the precautions and be smart about it. It’s shown that masks are really effective, so as long as you’re complying with mask regulations, there’s a good chance you can travel safely,” Beth Bestgen said.
According to TSA, about 10,000 travelers passed through Lambert the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2019. This year, they are projecting about 4,700 travelers.
“It is a difference this year, we are seeing about 50 percent of the levels we saw in 2019. A far cry from the passengers we saw last year,” said Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. “Wednesday through the checkpoints, we’re around 9,300 to 9,500; that’s just going through the checkpoints. But when you take a look at the connections and deplaning, we expect 20,000 people. Last year, we had 42,000.”
Flight attendant Kate Smith says despite the warnings, people are traveling.
Meanwhile, Hamm-Niebruegge says the airport is safe for travelers. The airport is following all of the CDC’s guidelines. There are social distancing markers, hand sanitizer stations, and you must wear a mask in the airport and on planes.