Skeptical travelers still plan to fly this holiday season despite the spread of omicron

DENVER (KDVR) – A wave of vacation travel recorded 6.5 million people flying between Thursday and Saturday.

That’s over 2 million every day checked by the Transportation Security Administration, in some cases more than double the numbers from last year. This shows that despite the omicron variant, people are committed to leading normal lives and seeing friends and family for the holidays. The figures are down slightly compared to 2019.

We asked the experts what the impact of the new wave is on travel. With a major omicron outbreak gripping the nation’s largest city, some travelers are worried about their upcoming Christmas plans. But experts say they’re not worried enough to cancel.

The folks at Scott’s Cheap Flights have investigated vacation travel after the omicron variant was first detected in the United States.

“There’s a lot of talk about omicron, a lot of worry about omicron, but travelers haven’t really changed their behavior so far,” said Willis Orlando, senior product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights.

“We polled a sample of our 2 million plus members and over 60% of them said, ‘Hey, we’re worried about what omicron is going to do for our vacation and our 2022 travel plans. But only 10-13% said they actually cancel their plans, so people are still traveling. “

Denver International Airport estimates that more than 2.7 million people will travel over the next two weeks.

AAA Colorado’s Skyler McKinley said we see more and more people driving to their destinations, but a select few made the decision to get behind the wheel after seeing the latest in omicron.

“We see these Christmas movies, these holiday movies – people running for a flight so they can get home for Christmas, it happens; there’s a lot of air travel, but car travel is definitely the dominant mode at the end of the year, ”McKinley said. “Some people have changed their travel plans. For the most part, these were people who had international travel plans and decided it wasn’t safe or that they might have flown to a destination hard hit by this new variant. We are not seeing a dramatic drop. People still don’t know what to do with omicron. There are a lot of people who wait for health data before canceling their plans. “

So if you’re still ready for take off, experts say, you should feel safe doing it.

“Remember that when you are on the plane, when you are with other people, you are in a safe and secure environment. The air is filtered. A lot of people get a little nervous because they haven’t been this close to others for a very long time. As long as you follow the protocols and your neighbors follow the protocols, you’ll be doing fine, especially if you’re a vaccinated person, ”Orlando said.

The airport said it has installed more than 100 hand sanitizer stations as well as wipes at each door for passengers. They also have a food delivery program available to customers who are uncomfortable waiting in queues.

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