AAA: Country could see largest drop in travel since Great Recession

50M people are expected to travel for Thanksgiving holiday, despite CDC urging Americans to stay home

The CDC has urged families NOT to travel to prevent the spread of covid-19. News4jax reporter Ashley Harding is LIVE at Jacksonville International.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Today is expected to be the busiest travel day of the year, and possibly the busiest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as people head to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Centers for Disease Control urged Americans to stay home this year to slow the spread of the virus, but at least 50 million people do plan to travel still, according to AAA.

It appeared some people heeded the warning. AAA said their analysts are expecting a 10% drop in travel as compared to last year, or about 5 million fewer people opting to travel. If that pans out, this year’s traveling numbers will be the largest one-year drop since the Great Recession in 2008.

At JAX Airport, foot traffic is sporadic this morning, but the busiest travel times are expected this afternoon between 3 and 5 p.m.

Rebecca Scimio, who is flying out to Pittsburgh today said she’s traveling because she doesn’t want to live in fear.

“I just feel like if you take the proper precautions; you can’t live in fear. You just have to live how you normally would, but do everything that you’re supposed to do with wearing a mask and washing your hands and everything,” she said.

Another traveler on her way to Philadelphia said seeing her family is priority No. 1.

“I’m just really excited to just embrace them. It’s been long time. I haven’t seen them in about a year. I am taking precautions for safety. Safety first! I have Purel in my bag, wet wipes, and I have Purel sanitizer. I’m ready to go! I’m going to wipe my seat down and everything,” Davida Fields said.

The CDC released a checklist of things to do if you must travel for the holiday or sometime soon.

  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public settings, including on public transportation and in transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

If you’re parking at JAX, Economy Lot 1 is open through 6 p.m. tonight, but all vehicles parked there must be moved by Monday November 30.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013. She reports for and anchors The Morning Show.