GREAT FALLS — The holiday rush is on. "Really, since Friday we've noticed the parking lot is filling in a little bit and the checkpoint seemed a little busier,” said Great Falls International Airport director John Faulkner.
But it's not your typical holiday rush. According to AAA, air travel this Thanksgiving week is expected be down about 50% this year, with fewer than 2.5 million people taking to the sky for some turkey and pumpkin pie.
"I miss my family. I haven't seen them in over six months, so I wanted to see them,” said Wendy Simkins, who was flying to San Diego on Tuesday.
"We were going to stay in Great Falls, but our daughter and her husband have the virus so our plans changed at the last minute. Our kids from Dallas were driving up and they decided at the last minute that they weren't so they said, 'Mom, why don't you and dad just come down here,’” said Lynn Hill, who was flying to Dallas.
Passengers say they're taking the COVID pandemic seriously, though. "We are careful, and if we do get it, we're believers so it's the Lord saying it's our time,” Hill said.
"I made sure everybody was healthy before I booked my flight,” Simkins said. "I wear my mask and make sure my hands are clean. I make sure that I'm not touching everything and I'm trying to distance myself from everybody."
If you are flying, Faulkner said your flight may be the least of your worries.
"There was some new information that just came out last week that shows that the virus lasts for a very short period of time on a plane, just seconds, because of the air handling system. So your chances of getting the virus on the aircraft are incredibly low,” Faulkner explained.
Click here for steps the CDC recommends taking before and after your flight to help reduce the spread of the virus.