Thanksgiving week travel expected to be busiest during pandemic

Thanksgiving week has always been the busiest tourist season of the year, and experts expect the number of people flying and traveling to be close to what it was before the pandemic.

As travel restrictions are lifted and COVID-19 deaths in the United States have dropped significantly, officials there has been a significant increase by the number of travelers this week. While the surge doesn’t quite outweigh the number of travelers seen in 2019 – before the pandemic – more people are traveling to see loved ones on this holiday.

More than 54.6 million people According to the American Automobile Association, they are expected to take a plane or car or ride public transportation during Thanksgiving week.

“We expect there to be more congestion this year than last year at this time, and likely to be very close to pre-pandemic levels,” said David Pekoske, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. said in a statement.

The TSA has already seen more people traveling this year over the holiday weekend than in recent years, with health officials recommending people avoid non-essential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

TSA officials said the number of travelers this year could reach pre-2020 levels, and that as many as 2.5 million passengers could be screened at airports across the country on Wednesday. On Sunday, travelers will probably surpass this number.

That’s not far off the record 2.9 million people who passed through TSA checkpoints on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019.

Air travel and even family gatherings will also look very different this year than they have in recent years, when stay-at-home and mask-wearing orders and the sheer number of COVID-19 deaths have prompted many people to avoid travel to celebrate the holiday. .

This week dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said people should consider the elderly and immunocompromised when gathering this holiday and suggested getting tested for COVID-19 before gathering to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

This was a significant change from Thanksgiving 2020 when Fauci urged people to stay at homeor keep the gatherings small, and warned that contact with people outside their family could put family members at risk.

But as the number of cases of COVID-19 is declining, more people are expected to attend the holiday.

During Thanksgiving week, Tuesday is set to be the busiest day at airports nationwide with 48,082 passengers. according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Wednesday will also be packed with last-minute travelers, with an expected 45,721 passengers.

Travel hype should ease off on Thanksgiving and the next two days. About 39,443 people are expected to travel by air on Saturday. However, by Sunday, the FAA expects the crowds to return, with 46,790 passengers flying that day.

The surge in travelers this weekend is also prompting airports and the TSA to warn people to arrive at airports early, given the possibility of delays due to traffic or long security lines.

Los Angeles International Airport is located more than 200,000 passengers per day expected until Nov. January 28, according to a press release from Los Angeles World Airports.

Delays and long queues can be observed not only in terminals. Up to 97,000 vehicles per day will try to pick up or drop off someone at the terminals, according to airport officials.

The spike is still less than in 2019, before the pandemic, but airport officials say it’s up 20,000 people a day from the same period last year.

Los Angeles officials expect up to 215,000 travelers on Sunday.

“LAX is ready to welcome guests during what is expected to be the busiest holiday travel period since 2019, and we ask travelers to do their part to create a stress-free experience by planning for parking, arriving very early and finding time to relax. at the gate rather than circling in traffic,” said Los Angeles World Airports CEO Justin Erbacci.

Travelers are usually told to arrive two hours before boarding for domestic flights and three hours before international flights, but officials said people might want to allow a little more time this week. This is especially true between 5 and 10 am and noon, which is considered the busiest time.

According to the Automobile Club, 4.5 million people will drive in Southern California this week, including 3.9 million people who will drive to their destination.

This could mean a return to the one holiday tradition that residents won’t look forward to: traffic.