Busy roads and airports expected for Thanksgiving holiday

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Thanksgiving travel is expected to surge within 5% of pre-pandemic numbers. (bneilson/Flickr)

More than 53 million people are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA. That’s close to the number of people who traveled in 2019, and a big surge from last year’s pandemic numbers.

“People want to be with their families,” said AAA Director of Public Relations Elizabeth Carey. “A lot of people missed out on holidays last year, missed out on family gatherings throughout the year, so people want to travel. They want to be with their loved ones.”

Carey said 90% of travelers will hit the roads, and she’s advising people to make sure their cars are in good shape before heading out. AAA expects to respond to more than 400,000 calls for help during Thanksgiving week. For drivers who want to steer clear of the heaviest traffic, Carey advises avoiding the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after.

Brian Murray, Director of Travel for AAA Western and Central New York, said at the airports, flights are full and schedules are tight. Make sure to plan ahead.

“Packing your patience is really key,” said Murray. “Getting to the airport, it’s really important to get there early. With the TSA lines and so forth, there’s going to be some delays. People that don’t normally travel are traveling.”

AAA recommends arriving two hours early to the airport for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights. Murray also points out if you’re traveling to a big city, lines may be much longer than in central New York, so keep that in mind when heading back home.