Holiday travel close to pre-pandemic volume

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 2:10 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - More than 53 million people are expected to travel for Thanksgiving this year, according to AAA. That is 6.4 million more compared to last year. There hasn’t been an increase this big, since 2005.

Traveling this year comes with a steep price, especially if you are driving.

Daily car rental rates have increased and now average about 100 dollars a day. If at some point you’ve got to fill up the tank, the further north, and east you go, the higher gas prices you’ll see.

With high traffic, comes longer driving times. Major metro areas across the U.S. could see more than double the delays versus typical drive times. Traffic is expected to be at its worst on November 24, during the afternoon.

Public Relations and Marketing Manager for AAA Alabama, Clay Ingram says to make sure to give yourself plenty of time.

“We are expecting 53.4 million people to travel a distance of 50 miles or more across the country. That is a 13 percent increase over last year’s pandemic numbers which is quite a bit more. It is about 5 percent less than what we saw in 2019 which is pre- pandemic numbers. Almost back to the normal number of travelers for the Thanksgiving holidays,” said Ingram.

Ingram said, currently, gas is down about five cents per gallon. He said if you download the AAA app it has a fuel price finder so you can get the cheapest prices on your road trip.

For those traveling by air, you should also give yourself plenty of time.

4.2 million people are expected to fly to reach their destinations.

Huntsville Airport Public Relations Manager Mary Swanstrom says the airport is almost 90% back to pre-COVID travel.

Of course, just like everyone else, airports and airlines are both dealing with staffing issues. So you’re going to need to be patient.

“We would like to encourage everyone to allow plenty of time to get through the airport. You’ll need to park. If you are not able to get deck parking you might need to park in Extended economy parking. And so allowing that time to walk in, get bags checked, get through TSA increased traffic and all that we plan to see this week,” said Swanstrom.

“We are accustomed to the size of our Huntsville Airport and people love it’s convenient it’s easy to get through. Please plan to arrive an hour and a half early to two hours early.”

Huntsville Airport has provided guidance for traveling during the holiday season:

Here are some tips for holiday air travelers:

  • Arrive early & stress less
  • Wear a mask (mandatory in the terminal and on aircraft)
  • Pack unwrapped gifts (even in checked bags)
  • Carry on food in a clear plastic bag. No liquid food items.
  • Firearms must be unloaded, locked in a hard-sided case, in a checked bag and declared to the airline upon check-in.
  • Behave (there are hefty fines and possibly a lifetime ban on certain airlines for unruly behavior)
  • No carry-on alcohol. Drinks must be served by an airline crew member once on board.
  • Global Entry – includes TSA Pre-check and can be obtained at HSV.
  • STAR ID deadline has been extended through May 3, 2023.

More traveler tips can be found at

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