Thanksgiving week trips set to be busiest during pandemic

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

With travel restrictions lifted and COVID-19 deaths down significantly in the United States, officials are see a significant increase the number of travelers this week. Although the increase does not quite exceed the number of travelers who were seen in 2019 – before the pandemic – more and more people are traveling to see their loved ones during these holidays.

More … than 54.6 million people should get on a plane or in a car, or take public transportation during Thanksgiving week, according to the American Automobile Assn.

“We expect to be busier this year than this time last year, and likely very close to pre-pandemic levels,” Transportation Security Administration Administrator David Pekoske said. said in a press release.

The TSA has already seen more people travel this year over holiday weekends than in recent years, when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted health officials to recommend people forgo non-essential travel.

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

That’s not too 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 this year will also be very different from what they have been in recent years, when stay-at-home and mask orders, and a devastating number of deaths from COVID-19 , have prompted many people to avoid travel to celebrate the holidays. .

This week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said people should consider the elderly and immunocompromised when collecting this holiday and suggested taking a COVID-19 test before heading out. together to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

It was a significant change from Thanksgiving in 2020, when Fauci urged people to stay homeor keep gatherings small, and warned that getting together with people outside their household would put family members at risk.

But with COVID-19 numbers dropping, more people are expected to gather for the holidays.

For Thanksgiving week, Tuesday is expected to be the busiest day at airports nationwide, with 48,082 passengers, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Wednesday would also be packed with last-minute travellers, with 45,721 passengers expected.

The travel rush is expected to ease at Thanksgiving and the following two days. On Saturday, around 39,443 people are expected to travel by air. By Sunday, however, the FAA expects the crowds to return, with 46,790 passengers flying that day.

The influx of travelers this weekend is also prompting airports and the TSA to warn people to get to airports early, given the possibility of traffic delays or long security lines.

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

It won’t just be in the terminals that LAX travelers might see delays or long lines. As many as 97,000 daily vehicles will attempt to pick up or drop off someone at the terminals, airport officials said.

This increase is still lower than that seen in 2019, before the pandemic, but airport officials note that this is 20,000 more people per day than at the same time last year.

On Sunday, LAX officials expect up to 215,000 travelers.

“LAX is ready to welcome guests for what is expected to be the busiest holiday season since 2019, and we are asking travelers to do their part to create a stress-free experience by planning their parking, arriving very early and taking time to relax at the gate instead of circling traffic,” said Justin Erbacci, general manager of Los Angeles World Airports, in a statement.

Travelers are generally told to arrive two hours before their boarding time for domestic flights and three hours before international flights, but officials said people might want to allow a little more time this week. This would be especially true between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. and mid-afternoon, which is considered the busiest time.

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

It could mean a return to the one holiday tradition residents aren’t looking forward to: traffic.

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