Houston airports prepare for 800k Thanksgiving travelers despite CDC’s ‘stay home’ guidance

The Thanksgiving travel period begins Friday and Bush and Hobby Airports are expecting to see their biggest volume of travelers since before the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation.

About 800,000 people are expected to go through the doors of Houston’s airports in the 10-day period between Friday before Thanksgiving and the Monday after Thanksgiving. That’s despite a recommendation from the CDC Thursday telling people to stay home for Thanksgiving.

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Bush airport was already busy with long lines Thursday. While social distancing in some cases of air travel is nearly impossible, the airport is strictly enforcing mask mandates.

“That’s why it’s so important to wear a facial covering,” said Augusto Bernal, spokesman for Houston Airport System. “Those parts where you might not be able to keep your social distance: it’s very important that you wear your mask inside the airport.”

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Bush Airport even installed a new PPE vending machine, complete with thermometers, sani kits, and masks to help travelers comply with airline restrictions.

“I’ve heard so many news about a lot of travelers being pulled out of the planes because the kids don’t want to wear the masks, so we’ll see how it goes, and hopefully she’ll keep it on,” said Marcella Sanchez, a Spirit Airlines passenger who bought a mask from the vending machine for her three-year-old daughter before boarding. “They emailed me several times saying they have to wear it, two-years and over. Under two, I guess not, but she’s three.”


The volume of travelers Houston airports are expecting will be higher than it’s been since April. But the projected 800,000 air passengers is actually half the volume of Thanksgiving travelers Houston airports had last year, according to Bernal.

Many people are taking the CDC’s advice and staying home, but others are taking advantage of more affordable airline tickets due to the pandemic.

“I’m only doing it because the flights are a whole lot cheaper,” said Jules J. before flying out of Houston Thursday.


If you do plan to travel for Thanksgiving, the CDC recommends you check travel restrictions before you go, get your flu shot before you travel, and avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.