This holiday season is sure to be a strange one as the country continues to grapple with the global health crisis. The holidays tend to be a time for travel so that family and friends can come together.
We’ve already seen this with crowds in Disney World this week (until today that is), and Disney Park Pass reservations have begun to fill up for the weeks surrounding Christmas. As COVID-19 cases continue to be a concern, airlines are preparing for a busy holiday season while wrestling with health and safety concerns.
According to WTSP, Florida currently leads the list of Thanksgiving destinations for air travel with Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando, and Miami all making the top 10 list for “most-resilient” Thanksgiving travel destinations in the country. This means that they have the least percentage decrease in travel demand from last year due to the pandemic.
This comes as several Florida airports are seeing their highest crowd levels since March. The Orlando airport is expecting 90,000 passengers the weekend after Thanksgiving and Tampa International Airport just recorded nearly 40,000 passengers on Sunday.
Per ClickOrlando, to help contend with the expected demand for travel to Florida, American Airlines will begin flying its largest plane, the Boeing 777, to Orlando from Dallas starting in December.
A spokesperson confirmed the high-capacity flights through “winter peak” and flight schedules show up to four 777s flying the route to and from Orlando each day. Delta Airlines is also looking to fly larger aircraft from several hubs, however, this airline will continue to block middle seats.
Dr. Jay Wolfson from the University of South Florida commented on the large numbers expected to travel to Florida saying, “With the increased travel into Florida we can expect to see some community spread, it’s just a natural thing.”
As a note, the traveling itself isn’t the risky part so much as the people you will be around before and after (in the terminal, at a gas station, using the restroom, and more) before reaching your destination, Wolfson notes.
Florida Orange County mayor Jerry Demings weighed in saying, “Do I have a concern? The answer will be yes. But we have to balance out living with the ability of people to relax. You have to balance that against our livelihoods. The ability of our businesses and others to safely operate and to make a profit. So we’re balancing this as the best as we can, I think, and so it may be a good thing that people feel safe traveling here, it kind of speaks to the type of community that we have.”
Still, air travel is far from returning to what it once was, especially internationally. While US airlines weigh health concerns against demand, international parties are fighting to get off the ground. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously resolved to urgently call on governments to re-open borders to travel.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on international regulations as well as the situation in Florida so that you know how air travel may impact your Disney trip. Stay tuned to DFB for all the updates!
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Are you flying to Orlando this holiday season? Tell us in the comments!