Thousands flew to Hawaii for Thanksgiving despite pandemic

Despite the pandemic and advice from health and government officials, thousands traveled aboard planes to Hawaii ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Between Friday and Tuesday, 54,103 trans-Pacific passengers flew to the Aloha State with 6,640 arriving at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport, according to data released by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. The arrival figures were up 37% and 49.7%, respectively, compared to the week prior.

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Nationwide, a whopping 4.88 million people traveled during those five days, up about 20% front he week prior, but down significantly from 2019 when 11.75 million took to the skies before Thanksgiving Day, according to data released by the Transportation Security Administration.

The single-highest number of single-day traveler since mid-March occurred Sunday with 1,047,943 people boarding planes, the data shows.

Early on in the pandemic, the number of U.S. air travelers recorded by the Transportation Security Administration stood near or below 100,000 passengers. Before the pandemic, as many as 30,000 visitors arrived a day in Hawaii.

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Those totals have increased considerably in the months since, despite the ongoing surges of coronavirus cases throughout the country and advisement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised not to travel for the holiday. The CDC named airports — along with bus stations, gas stations, rest stops and other means of public transportation — as areas where people can be exposed to the virus.

“Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are fun but can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu,” the CDC said last week. “The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household.”