The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dealt a blow to airlines and the broader travel industry Thursday by recommending Americans stay home for Thanksgiving as coronavirus cases surge in almost every state.
Airlines are countering that passengers are safe on planes because of precautionary measures in place, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says people should be free to make up their minds about whether to visit family and friends during what’s typically the busiest travel holiday of the year.
“The decision to travel is up to the traveler,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said at a briefing Thursday, adding that CDC guidelines should also be taken into consideration. “It’s an individual choice to make the journey, we just want to do everything we can to do the utmost to protect passengers should they choose to make that journey.”
More than 1 million coronavirus cases were reported in the U.S. over the past seven days, the most since the pandemic started. That in turn has led to increased hospitalizations and more deaths, with the U.S. passing the quarter-million mark earlier this week.
Those case spikes are a major reason why the latest CDC guidance recommended forgoing travel at this time, saying Thanksgiving should be spent only with people living in the same household.
Airline industry executives, meanwhile, are insisting that air travel is safe, pointing to improved air quality in cabins and mandating masks for passengers and crew.
“You are safe on an airplane. The reason you are safe is because of a multi-layered approach of risk mitigation put in place,” said Nicholas Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, the main advocacy group for major U.S. airlines.
In response to the CDC’s travel warning, US Travel Association CEO Roger Dow said the agency’s guidance “further underscores the need to be