Why You May Want to Avoid Flying for Thanksgiving


You May Want to Avoid Flying for Thanksgiving. That's because many airports are bound to see long lines at security checkpoints due to high rates of unvaccinated TSA employees, who face a looming federal worker vaccination deadline of November 22, 2021.

Currently 40% of TSA workers are still unvaccinated, and those who haven't had a first shot have already missed the opportunity to be vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine, which requires 28 days between the first and second dose. TSA workers would have to get their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine no later than Monday, October 18, in order to be fully vaccinated (which is considered to be 2 weeks after the second dose) by the 11/22/21 deadline. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has said that “Employees who refuse to be vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination are subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including removal or termination from Federal service.”

While the TSA says it's considering a contingency plan to have managers fill the shifts of unvaccinated workers, there aren't enough managers to fill in for the thousands of workers who are likely to remain unvaccinated–likely leading to long waits at checkpoints and potentially missed flights for travelers who don't get to the airport early enough.

Yet another reason that some travelers traveling during Thanksgiving could experience delays or even cancelled flights is the fact that American Airlines has an internal November 24, 2021 deadline for staff to submit proof of full vaccination, otherwise they'll be terminated. That's the day before Thanksgiving. Currently, about 4000 of the 14,000 pilots in the union that represents American Airlines pilots aren't vaccinated.

The bottom line: if you can safely and relatively conveniently drive or take a train to see family for Thanksgiving, that's what we'd recommend. And if you must fly, we recommend trying to fly at a less popular time, leaving plenty of time at the airport to undergo security, and flying one of the more heavily vaccinated airlines, such as United Airlines, while avoiding American Airlines and Southwest.

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