As Holiday Travel Picks Up Again, Lawmakers Call For COVID Restrictions For Domestic Flights

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With a major uptick in holiday travel underway, some lawmakers are calling on President Joe Biden to require everyone on domestic flights to get vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID test.

Approximately 4.2 million Americans are expected to fly for Thanksgiving — a more than 80% increase from last year.

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The latest TSA numbers show for a fourth consecutive day, more than two million people passed through airport security nationwide.

By 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, long TSA lines snaked through LaGuardia Airport.

Some good news for travelers: A TSA representative tweeted Monday that 93% of workers are now vaccinated following a federal mandate, so staffing shortages likely won’t slow down security lines.

However, COVID concerns are a different story. Nationwide, infections are up 54% in the last month.

“I think I would feel safer if everybody was vaccinated or at least if everybody was tested,” traveler Nicole Rosenthal told CBS2.


In a letter signed by several Democrats, including New York Congressman Ritchie Torres, lawmakers asked the president to require airline passengers to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative test to board a domestic flight.

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“This is a necessary and long overdue step toward ensuring all Americans feel safe and confident while traveling and reduce the changes of yet another devastating winter surge,” they wrote.

The Rosenthal family was already in compliance with the potential requirement.

“We’re both double vaccinated and boosted, and she’s had two vaccines, and we’re ready to go,” Nicole Rosenthal said.

Proof of vaccination is required for international travel, but the country’s transportation secretary said Sunday it isn’t necessary for flights within the U.S. because current safety protocols, like masking, work.

Several passengers CBS2 spoke with said requiring shots for all flights feels like overreaching.

“I feel like as long as people are taking the proper safety precautions, it’s not necessary. I mean, everyone has the right to choose,” one person said.

“I feel quite safe. Everyone wears their mask on board and sanitizing stations,” said Erin Coombs.

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AAA experts say air travel has almost completely recovered from its dramatic fall during the pandemic.