Holiday travel underway despite public health warnings amid COVID-19 surge

Public health officials have been pleading with people to stay home during a wicked winter surge of COVID-19.

But some Southern Californians have cooled to the idea of staying home during the holiday season; no matter the risk.

At LAX, traffic is a quarter of what it was a year ago, but even that amount is dangerous, experts say. They fear the infection rate will soar as families travel and mix outside of their households.

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FOX 11 found traffic to be light at LAX on Monday afternoon. When we approached travelers about their decision to fly, reporter Laura Diaz found most to be wary of speaking to us on camera. But a few brave people did.

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One self-described "only child" from Sherman Oaks was headed to the East Coast. She said she tested before and will test again when she lands before visiting her parents.

Another father and son were headed to Virginia to visit the father's dad who has terminal cancer. He said normally they would not be flying but this was an emergency, and so they booked a flight.

But travel expert, Matthew Klint of "Live and Let's Fly" said family reunions weren't the only reason people were flying. Some people simply wanted a change of scenery. He pointed out that in the last couple of weeks many Southern Californians are headed south of the border.

The draw? Pristine beaches and few pandemic restrictions in places like Cabo San Lucas. People have wanderlust and they're willing to take their chances. The complete flouting of strict travel advisories can be worrisome.

Renowned psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere called this "system justification" whereby people rationalize their behavior especially so they don't have to make adjustments they consider Draconian.

Keep in mind, we saw much the same trend at Thanksgiving. The surge we are experiencing now is payback for gathering outside the bubbles a month ago.

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