Less holiday travel expected; Americans still likely to go against pandemic warnings

AAA expects one third fewer Americans will travel for the holidays in 2020 compared to 2019
Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 9:52 AM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - It looks like messaging from the Centers for Disease Control and other public health leaders on avoiding holiday travel has had some impact, but perhaps not enough.

AAA expects 34 million fewer Americans will travel for Christmas and New Years this year compared to 2019. That’s a nearly 30% drop. That still leaves millions of Americans who are expected to travel. AAA expects 81% of those will drive, but the rest likely will hop on a plane.

From the CDC to the El Paso County Health Department, public health officials have said since before Thanksgiving, Americans are encouraged to stay within their households for the holidays.

Leaders at the Colorado Springs Airport say, it’s hard to know what crowd size to expect for Christmas and New Years.

“It’s really hard to anticipate air travel, especially right now as things consistently change. We have an anticipation for what numbers we will have next week, but that could change,” said Dana Schield with the Colorado Springs Airport.

Thanksgiving travel trends may be a good indicator of what to expect for the last 2 weeks of 2020.

The Transportation Security Administration saw far less passenger screenings the week of Thanksgiving 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. However, Thanksgiving week 2020 saw some of the highest passenger screening rates during the pandemic.

The Colorado Springs Airport did not see a Thanksgiving travel surge. Leaders there say, their numbers stayed consistent with what was tracked the weeks prior to Thanksgiving.

Part of the draw of small airports is smaller crowds,

Schield added, “I think now more than ever, people will want a little more space, want to be around a little less people, not be in a crowded train or shuttle bus.”

Leaders remind those who are flying for the holidays, arrive at the airport early and be prepared for delays.

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