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

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — A holiday travel surge registered 6.5 million people who flew between Thursday and Saturday.

That’s more than 2 million each day screened by the Transportation Security Administration, in some cases more than double last year’s numbers. It shows that despite the omicron variant, people are committed to normal life and seeing friends and family for the holiday. The numbers are down slightly from 2019.

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

The folks over at Scott’s Cheap Flights conducted a survey about holiday travel after the omicron variant was first detected in the U.S.

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

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

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

Skyler McKinley with AAA Colorado said we always see more people driving to their destination but a select few have made the decision to get behind the wheel after seeing the latest with omicron.

“We see these Christmas movies, these holiday movies – people running to catch a flight so they can get home for Christmas, that does happen; there’s a lot of air travel but road trips are the dominate mode at the year-end for sure,” McKinley said. “Some folks have changed their travel plans. Largely, those were folks who had some international travel plans who decided it wasn’t safe or they might have been flying to a destination that’s being hit hard by this new variant. We’re not seeing a dramatic dropoff. People still aren’t quite sure what to make of omicron. There’s a lot of folks waiting on health data before they cancel their plans.”

So if you are still ready for takeoff, experts say, you should feel safe doing so.

“Just remember, when you’re on the plane, when you’re around other folks, you’re in a safe and secure environment. The air is filtered. A lot of folks get a little bit nervous they haven’t been this close to other people for a very long time. As long as you follow protocols and your neighbors follow protocols, you’re going to get through this alright especially if you are a vaccinated individual,” Orlando said.

The airport said they have put up more than 100 hand sanitizer stations as well as wipes at each gate for passengers. They also have a food delivery program available for customers who are not comfortable waiting in lines.

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