I wrote a post last week about why you might want to avoid booking flights on Southwest and American Airlines during the holidays. One of the reasons is because, per Politico, “Unions representing pilots at Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, both based in Texas, are asking for exemptions to President Joe Biden’s pending vaccine mandate, with one of those unions warning that holiday travel could be disrupted if they have to comply.”
A simple fix would be to book Delta or United. However, according to CNN, 40% of TSA employees are unvaccinated and the deadline is looming. In fact, Joe Biden’s administration’s federal worker mandate for everyone to be vaccinated is November 22. Thanksgiving this year is on November 25, which means this couldn’t happen at a worse time because there’s no way the TSA is going to be able to get everyone vaxxed by then and it takes time to hire and train new employees.
As my buddy and airline analyst Henry Harteveldt told The NY Post: “This is shaping up to be a miserable Thanksgiving holiday, at least right now, for airline passengers,” he warned. “Prepare for doomsday and be pleasantly surprised if it’s better than that.”
I’ve long said I almost always avoid Thanksgiving air travel because fares are expensive and airports and planes are packed. Everyone is stressed. There are tons of rookie travelers out there who don’t know how to quickly cruise through security and board and deplane.
I know we all want and need to see our friends and families, especially after the last 20 months we’ve had. But if you’re adamant about flying for Thanksgiving, you are going to want to fly before November 22 and return well after the busiest travel day of the year (the Sunday after Thanksgiving) or be prepared. If the Federal Government doesn’t push their mandate, then you better show up to the airport hours before your flight to make sure you clear security. Because if you miss your flight, it could be days before you get out on another since planes will be packed unless you’re flying internationally (Thanksgiving is always a good week to fly internationally).
Tip: Sign up to CLEAR so you can cut the security line. Here’s how to get CLEAR for cheap.
Also keep in mind that it seems that almost every Thanksgiving, there’s a major storm impacting a region of the country. If that happens again this year, then follow Tony Soprano’s advice and just ‘fuhgeddaboudit’.