The Sunday before Thanksgiving was the single-busiest day at airports since the pandemic began in March.

By Cailey Rizzo
November 23, 2020

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened a record of more than 3 million passengers at airports across the country this weekend, despite warnings from epidemiologists to avoid travel at this time. 

Sunday was the single-busiest day at airports since the pandemic began in March, with 1,047,934 travelers passing through security checkpoints, according to TSA data. On Friday, more than a million passengers were checked and on Saturday, that number dipped to just slightly below a million. 

TSA crews are checking baggages of travelers at a security check point
Credit: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially recommended “against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” but millions of travelers had already purchased their tickets and packed their bags. 

Many leaders and disease experts are warning against travel for Thanksgiving. Dr. Anthony Fauci encouraged Americans to “think twice” before traveling or attending a big holiday gathering this year. “You're going to start seeing these unanticipated infections related to innocent home gatherings, particularly as we head into the holiday season," he said last week

For those still planning on visiting family this Thanksgiving, the TSA released a set of guidelines for safer travel through the airport, including tips like bringing an extra face mask and how to pack hand sanitizer in your carry-on. TSA directors recommend enrolling in TSA PreCheck to cut back on the amount of time you spend waiting in line. 

The U.S. Travel Association also has tips for travelers, including frequent hand washing, social distancing and getting a COVID-19 test before you hit the road. 

If you’re attending a Thanksgiving gathering, the CDC has some new tips to reduce the spread of COVID-19, like holding off on the holiday carols and spiked eggnog this year. There are also guidelines about how to serve food and disinfect kitchens

For those staying home on Thursday, Zoom will lift its 40-minute time limit to allow families to spend the holiday together from the safety of their own lockdown. 

On Friday, Johns Hopkins University reported a record 195,542 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The total number of cases reported in America is now 12.2 million. 

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, on Instagram, or at