Closings: Schools, churches, day-cares and businesses

Holiday air and road travel at record high; experts caution planning ahead

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ST. LOUIS – If you’re traveling this holiday season, experts say pack some extra patience this year.

According to American Automobile Association (AAA), road travel is expected to be significantly up this year.

“We are anticipating 107 million Americans that are going to be on the roadways and railways,” said AAA public affairs president Mike Right. “That’s an increase over last year of about three percent.”

The travel number to and from St. Louis Lambert International Airport has also increased compared to the same time last year.

“Today we expected 21,000 flying out and 21,000 flying back in,” said Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

Meanwhile, several car train and plane rides later, California resident Daniel Lehnherr finally made it into St. Louis to spend the holidays with his family – all with a baby in tow.

“We would love to have more flights into St. Louis,” Lehnherr said. “We always have to connect somewhere.”

Lenherr said that this time around, his travel seemed a little more hectic.

“Today both flights were full at both airports that we flew through to get here and were pretty crazy,” he said.

The increase in travelers meant more customers for Aleshia Harris at the Starbucks in Terminal 2.

“I’m tired right now, because I only had one hour of sleep,” she said.

Airport officials recommend that travelers follow a few helpful steps when trying to navigate through the crowds.

“For the average traveler especially if you’ve got children or elderly passengers with you we tell people two hours,” said Hamm-Niebruegge. “Every present should be unwrapped, because if the TSA finds something on the screen, then they’re going to have to unwrap the present.”

Neal Ballas hasn’t lived in St. Louis for nearly ten years but said that coming back home from Maryland, he doesn’t mind traveling with a large volume of passengers.

“St Louis is an awesome city,” Ballas said. “I hear people talking about it in D.C. It’s just a very affordable place to live, lots to do, it’s an appeal and it’s a city on the rise.”

According to Illinois State Police, District 11 will step up patrols throughout the holiday period in an effort to reduce reckless and impaired driving.

The agency is asking that drivers behind the wheel do their part and drive responsibly.

For more helpful airport travel information visit, www.flystl.com.