MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s typically the busiest travel season of the year, but COVID-19 is definitely slowing things down this year. Health experts say it is safest to stay home and recommend doing so. But if you are considering a trip home this holiday season, there are some things experts say you should be ready for, especially if you have been eyeing that cheap flight home.

“Travel is very much a personal decision. This trip for us we didn’t take lightly. We quarantined before we left, and when we return back to Minnesota we are going to get tested,” Jared Kamrowski, founder of Thrifty Traveler, said.

Kamrowski spoke with WCCO’s Erin Hassanzadeh while on his first trip since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“Everyone was masking up, everyone was social distancing for the most part at the boarding gates, and at least for Delta they’re boarding from the back of the plane first,” he said.

While some airlines are doing things like extra cleaning and requiring masks, keeping your distance is impossible on a full flight. Different airlines have different policies. Delta and Alaska airlines are blocking middle seats through Jan. 6. Southwest is doing the same until the end of the month. But other airlines aren’t. Kamrowski says it’s important to do your homework.

The prep work doesn’t stop once you book a flight. When you get to your destination, you may have to quarantine or provide a negative COVID test result.

“This stuff is changing all the time and its kind of one of those hurdles that you need to cross before you can actually get on that flight,” Kamrowski said.

For example, in New York travelers must get tested a few days before flying, then quarantine for the first three days of travel and get a test on day four of travel.

As of Tuesday, Chicago requires anyone travelling from Minnesota to quarantine for two weeks. Minnesota doesn’t have these restrictions right now, but Wisconsin asks visitors to stay home as much as possible for two weeks after arriving.

“In April, we had only 5% of the people flying who flew the year before. Now we’re usually up to about 30% of last year’s numbers,” Patrick Hogan, spokesperson for Metropolitan Airports Commission, said.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is expecting the most flyers it’s seen since the pandemic hit this coming holiday season. Health experts recommend thinking twice before you pack your bags and catch that flight.

The Centers for Disease Control says travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, and that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.

While most viruses don’t spread easily on flights because of air circulation and filtration, your proximity to others for long periods of time is risky.

Thrifty Traveler has a comprehensive list of the state-by-state travel restrictions, which you can access here. They change often, so check before you travel. Airline policies are also subject to change, so check those as well.

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Erin Hassanzadeh

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