The busy Thanksgiving travel period will look different this year

Reporter: Gail Levy
Published: Updated:

More than two-and-a-half million people in Florida are expected to travel next Wednesday through Sunday over the Thanksgiving holiday.

While most travelers in Southwest Florida will drive, others will fly out of Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW).

With COVID-19 cases on the rise across the country, many are still concerned and don’t want to fly.

But they will get in their cars and drive someplace, and that fits with what we’ve seen the last several months.

Visitors are coming from Miami and West Palm and Orlando because those places are only a couple of hours away.

At RSW, there’s no real sign Thanksgiving is going to change things.

On any other day, Sharon Loshon is ready to explore the world, “I love, you know, going on planes.” But this year that’s out of the question.

“I drove from California to Mississippi,” Loshon said. “I am not going to step on a plane, I am not going to take a train or a bus, car only.”

Loshon’s not alone.

Vicki Moreland with the Lee County Port Authority does not expect the usual Thanksgiving rush at RSW. “We don’t expect the crowds, but the travel experience is so different this year, we don’t want you to feel rushed.”

That’s why Moreland recommends if you are flying out this weekend or next week, to get to the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight.

It’s also critical you check your airline’s and your destination’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

More than a dozen states and Washington D.C. require you quarantine upon arrival.

None of that is going to stop Sheila VanHeest from Chicago from getting on a plane, “This is my sixth airplane flight to and from Chicago to Florida this year, I’ve also been before COVID broke, to Arizona. So I’ve been around the country and I feel very safe.”

At RSW, travelers are required to follow current CDC guidelines, meaning masks and social distancing.

The janitorial staff works round the clock doing extra cleaning.

Travel company AAA predicted 2.5 million people in Florida may travel over thanksgiving. But the company admits that number could be lower because people in their survey say they still haven’t decided whether to go somewhere for the holiday. And the recent rise in coronavirus cases is a deciding factor for many.

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