Thanksgiving travel sharply decreases at Norfolk airport as experts warn against gatherings

Posted at 1:04 PM, Nov 26, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk International Airport was noticeably quiet Thanksgiving morning during one of the busiest travel seasons of the year.

Empty lines meant a floor sweeper had no trouble weaving a large riding vacuum through the ticket area.

Ticket lines were mostly empty, TSA lines were sparse, and no bags needed to be claimed when News 3 arrived at the airport Thursday morning.

Looks can be deceiving. Millions are still taking the risk of traveling to see family and friends as health experts fear thanksgiving could be a "superspreader" event.

The warnings didn’t deter Kurt Johanssen. He celebrated an early holiday with his parents in Virginia Beach and he’s heading home to for a second Thanksgiving with family in Michigan.

Unlike many American’s, his Thanksgiving plans haven’t changed at all this year.

“It felt like it was worth the risk to come out here and see them, and I really didn’t have any major concerns. Is it 100%? I can’t say 100%,” said Johanssen.

He brought a N95 mask for the trip and says seeing family was worth the risk.

Maren Erickson says she’s only flying for work and is also taking extra mask precautions.

“I have a 97-year-old mother, so I’m not even going to see her. We’ll just chat on the phone and have food delivered and whatnot,” said Erickson.

She’s canceling Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings and she’s not alone.

Less than half the number of travelers came through Norfolk International Airport the day before Thanksgiving compared to last year. By Thanksgiving morning travel was down by 62% from 2019.

It’s the same story at airports around the country. TSA reported a decline in more than a million passengers, with 60% less people going through checkpoints the day before Thanksgiving this year.

“There’s always next year and I think things will be better by then,” said Erickson.