Travelers still hitting the skies amid omicron

Fears of the omicron variant are not dissuading travelers from taking to the skies this holiday season.

A survey conducted by Scott’s Cheap Flights showed the vast majority of travelers did not cancel any plans.

Whether it is news that the omicron variant may be less severe or more people are confident in their vaccinations, only about 13% of travelers changed their Christmas and New Year’s travel.

“What we found is that two-thirds of folks or more were concerned about omicron [and] thought maybe it would affect their 2022 plans. Only about 13% were changing the holiday plans. So, folks were continuing to travel in spite of concerns,” said Willis Orlando, a senior product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights.

“The TSA screened more than 2 million people in six of the last seven days — two days ago, they actually screened more people than they did on the same day in 2019 (Dec. 22). So we’re seeing major, major traveling, mainly domestically at the moment.”

While some of the busiest days of the travel season are already behind us, Willis told WTOP they are expecting to see the longest airport lines and packed flights on Jan. 2 and 3.

But he also said new work habits are spreading fliers out among the busy travel days.

“People are working from home, the travelers are more spread out than ever. That’s why we’re seeing 2 million people per day going through airports instead of one big surge that’s higher than that,” said Willis.

According to the survey, most people are traveling to visit family.

“People are doing those essential trips that maybe they put off last year, and they really want to take, and holding off and kind of pushing those recreational trips further down the road,” Willis told WTOP.

But some are still heading on vacation — the most popular destinations are international warm spots. Willis said Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and the Dominican Republic were some of the top spots for Christmas vacationers.

And while you may still want to fly, several airlines like Delta and United are canceling hundreds of flights due to weather and staffing shortages because of coronavirus infections.

“They’ve had to kind of preemptively cancel flights. They’ve canceled more than 100 today. And they did that yesterday,” said Willis. “Right now we’re talking about a 10-day quarantine period for flight crew and staff if they test positive. So Delta has actually gone out and asked, they asked to have that number reduced down to five days with a testing requirement.”

Willis advises to check your flight status through Flight Aware.

“Make sure you know that your plane is gonna be there, the crew’s gonna be there, the equipment’s gonna be there and that you’ll be able to fly.”

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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