CHICAGO — Between O’Hare and Midway airports, about 3 million people expected to fly between now and Jan. 3, with Thursday expected to be the busiest travel day at O’Hare.
This is all happening as concerns over the new omicron variant continue to rise. The variant now makes up about 73% of all cases in the United States.
The International Air Transport Association says that the risk of transmission on board a plane remains much lower than crowded places on the ground due to the use of hospital grade air filters, stressing passengers who are vaccinated and boosted and wearing masks are the most protected.
However, this week, David Powell, the top medical advisor to the world’s airlines, says people flying could be two to three times more likely to catch Covid during a flight since the emergence of the omicron variant, due to how contagious it is.
Powell says passengers sitting next to each other should avoid taking off masks and eating at the same time and be cautious removing masks inside airports around crowds.
Airline officials are saying the next two weeks will be the busiest since the start of the pandemic with 6.4 million people flying, which is triple last year’s numbers.
AAA reports 109 million people will travel for Christmas total — that’s for all modes of transportation.
A passenger that spoke with WGN said he feels relatively safe.
“I’m boosted,” Austin Skiera said. “I fly every week from D.C. to Chicago every Friday. I’m used to it, but it’s definitely hitting us hard, it seems.”
Health experts suggest passengers testing before and after any holiday trips to prevent potential spread of the virus.
People can get a rapid test at O’Hare through the end of the year, but have to book an appointment online on this website: doctorstestcenters.com/flychi.