Thanksgiving is likely to look quite different for many of us this year; travel plans have been put on hold for some, and for others, there will be an empty chair at the table.
For those traveling by air, Thanksgiving flights are likely to be less full than in other years, particularly since many airlines are still limiting their flight capacity. JetBlue, for example, made the following statement:
“For the duration of the holiday season (through 1/7), we’ll continue to limit capacity on our flights—however, specific seats (including middle seats) will no longer be blocked and it’s likely you will be seated next to another customer.” Note that on flights departing through December 1, JetBlue is limiting its capacity to 70% of available seats. You can also consider buying the empty seat next to you; with air travel prices down across the board, this might be a worthwhile investment.
According to USA Today, Southwest, which had been effectively keeping middle seats empty, will no longer limit the capacity of each flight beginning on December 1, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
This leaves Delta as the only major carrier still blocking middle seats:
“Delta will continue delivering on its industry-leading commitment to provide more space for customers as the only U.S. airline blocking middle seats for flights departing now through March 30, 2021. As more medical experts agree on the safety of air travel thanks to the multiple layers of protection provided under the Delta CareStandard, blocking seats into spring 2021 provides added confidence and reassurance for customers booking future travel plans.”
Airline Travel Rebounds, Slowly
Airlines, of course, have been among the hardest-hit businesses since the arrival of the pandemic. The U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA) keeps a running tally of the number of travelers passing through TSA checkpoints; the tally is updated daily at 9:00 am.
While the number of travelers is growing, it is still off by significant amounts from the same day last year. On May 10, for example, the 2019 number was 2,419,114; this year, it was 200,815. Now, however, the number of travelers on any given day has grown considerably. On November 15, the 2019 number was 2,396,681; this year, it was back to almost half its pre-pandemic levels, at 978,297.
Holiday Travel Down in General, Across Modes of Transportation
According to AAA, which issues an annual prediction of holiday travel, “Thanksgiving will be on the lighter side when it comes to the typical number of travelers on the roads and at airports. According to AAA Travel, effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including health concerns and high unemployment, are impacting Americans’ decisions to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. With health and government officials stressing that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick, AAA anticipates at least a 10% drop in travel – the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008,” adding that “The decision to travel is a personal one. For those who are considering making a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the flexibility to modify holiday travel plans up until the day of departure.”
On the shopping side, more stores will close this year in observance of the holiday. Alabama.com reported that many stores, some of whom had become accustomed to kicking off Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, will now be closed on Thanksgiving. Among the many stores which will be closed on Thanksgiving are Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. As usual, Publix will be closed on Thanksgiving, but most local Whole Foods Markets will be open from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Some Winn-Dixie stores will be open with limited hours.
The Turkey Trot is Still On – You Have Until Tomorrow to Sign Up!
Despite many plans being disrupted this year, the Turkey Trot will continue. You can read more about this year’s Turkey Trot here; and remember, you can sign up right through November 25!