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Why fly? Last-minute travelers share the reasons they're flying despite COVID-19 risk

'I feel confident that we'll be okay'
Major US airlines threaten to ban passengers who refuse to wear masks
Posted at 10:31 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-26 12:04:30-05

HEBRON, Ky. — Last-minute Thanksgiving travelers at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport say the reward of seeing family outweighs the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 while in flight.

Outside CVG, a steady stream of cars ferried passengers to the airport in Hebron Wednesday night.

Jaeda McKinney and her dad, Shaka Thompson, were headed out west to see family in Colorado on Wednesday.

So, why fly?

"Honestly, the flights were cheap,” explained Thompson. “I trust that they've taken precautions for safety. Because we've been around each other only, everyone else around each other only, I feel confident that we'll be okay."

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Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, travelers made their way through CVG to board flights home.

Others, like Antonio Ward, were in Cincinnati for work and have to head home before the holiday.

"Private chef in high demand, you have to fly all the time,” he said. “You have to trust God. Follow all the safety procedures, and you'll be okay."

Folks who spoke to WCPO said they're confident in airlines’ ability to ensure a safe experience.

“Making sure everything is clean, they do a quick process when you come in to check in,” Ward said. “The flights on the plane, I haven't noticed a couple spaces between people on the airlines. I think it's safe to travel."

RELATED: CVG turns to new technology, cleaning protocols to keep travelers safe

Downstairs, at the airport's welcome point, Rickey Brown and his wife were waiting for a reunion with their daughter.

"We ain’t seen her in, what, over a year? A year or more,” he said.

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For Rickey Brown and his wife, having the opportunity to see their daughter for the first time in more than a year made the risk of traveling amid a pandemic, worth it.

His daughter, Aisha, was coming home from California after serving for a year in the Army reserves.

“I don't know how many people they put on a plane,” Brown said. “If they have social distancing or not, I can't say.”

These families are far from alone; between 900,000 and 1 million people per day passed through American airport checkpoints from last Friday through Tuesday, though it's a drop of about 60% during the same time a year ago, according to the Associated Press.

In 2019, a record 26 million passengers and crew passed through U.S. airport screening in the 11-day period around Thanksgiving, the AP reports.

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Travelers make their way inside Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Even with the CDC recommending against travel this holiday season, for these families, being with the ones they love is worth the risk.

“If you're going to be stuck in the house, be stuck in the house with someone you care about,” said Thompson. “That's all!"