Expectations and safety tips for holiday travel during the pandemic

Holiday Travel 2020

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - While it’s expected to be fewer than in previous years, people will still be traveling amid the COVID-19 pandemic despite recommendations by top health officials.

In fact, AAA anticipates at least a 10% drop in travel this year. This is the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008.

According to projections by AAA, air travel volume is expected to be down by nearly half of prior years. They predict there will be 2.4 million air travelers this year compared to nearly five million last year.

Holiday airfares are the lowest in three years, according to AAA.

In the same forecast, AAA anticipates road travel to also be down this year from previous years. The company projects road travel to fall 4.3% to 47.8 million travelers compared to 49.9 million in 2019. They say road travel also accounts for 95% of all holiday travel.

Starting Wednesday, the South Carolina Highway Patrol plans to have more troopers on the road. They’ll be posted along interstates and primary roads, for example, Interstate 95.

Master Trooper Brian Lee with SCHP said they’ll be on the lookout for violations. This includes distracted driving, speeding, being under the influence or not wearing a seatbelt.

Lee strongly encourages people to take your time, plan ahead and don’t speed. He also suggested checking and servicing vehicles before leaving.

“We want everybody to be safe, we want everybody to make it to their destination. We don’t want anybody to have plans for a holiday get together and somebody not make it for a holiday get together,” Lee said. “That’s one of the worst things we have to do is when we have to do a death notification.”

If air travel is preferred, Myrtle Beach International Airport is taking safety precautions seriously.

The Transportation Security Administration is using a new system to check identification. Passengers won’t have to hand their boarding pass and identification to a TSA officer. Instead, they’ll insert their identification into a machine and it will notify the officer if the passenger can continue through security.

“The CAT technology has actually been in a pilot program for many years now, and having seen it myself, in O’Hare back in 2005, the advancements that we have made from that time frame to here is really astronomical,” South Carolina Federal Security Director David McMahon said. “And it’s really seamless across the nation. The same tech you see here you’ll see in Atlanta, Georgia, Chicago, LAX, any one of the major airports, as well as our smaller airports across the nation.”

Ryan Betcher, MYR spokesman, released the following statement on holiday travel:

For the Saturday before the Thanksgiving holiday through the Sunday after (11/21/20 – 11/29/20) there are 21,090 scheduled departing seats from MYR. In comparison, there were 22,159 scheduled departing seats for the same period in 2019 (11/23/19 – 12/01/19). This information represents a difference of only five percent for 2019 vs. 2020 and demonstrates strong demand for air travel to/from MYR is expected during the Thanksgiving holiday. Passengers traveling during this period are encouraged to arrive early for a stress-free travel experience. The airport is fully open, including all food and beverage and retail concessions, and the MYR team is actively sanitizing and disinfecting the facility so as to ensure the continued safety of the passengers and employees. MYR recently announced its latest accomplishment in earning the GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council) accreditation, demonstrating that correct work practices, procedures and systems are in place to prepare, respond and recover from outbreaks and pandemics.”

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