ST. LOUIS, MO – The day before Thanksgiving is always the busiest travel day of the year, with millions of Americans hitting the roads, rails and skies ahead of the holiday. With travel expected to be close to pre-pandemic levels, it’s all hands on deck for the St. Louis-Lambert International Airport and the airlines.
“The weather is good. Everything has been flowing great. Everyone’s got their teams on board, you know, here to help,” says Airport Director Rhonda Hamm- Niebruegge.
Lambert Airport is humming again thanks to a surge in holiday traffic. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says officers screened more than two million passengers at checkpoints around the country on Tuesday alone.
“The loads are great. They are almost at pre-pandemic levels. And in some cases, there are peak days this week that are actually higher than the same week of 2019.”
TSA says it is prepared to handle around 20 million passengers through Sunday, but travelers should still arrive early with their masks in hand.
“We encourage people to make sure you use the two hour window. If you’re bringing small children and lots of luggage, just give yourself extra time,” says Director Hamm-Niebruegge.
If you’re driving to your celebration, you aren’t alone. AAA predicts more than 48 million Americans will travel by car despite higher gas prices.
“They’re about $1.20 to $1.30 more than this time last year,” explains Nick Chabarria with AAA’s St. Louis Regional Office. “The good news for our Missouri drivers is that Missouri currently ranks the sixth lowest statewide average in the country. Of course, Illinois is quite a bit higher.”
AAA also expects big increases in travel by train and bus. Bottom line, no matter how your travel, pack your patience.
“The travel and hospitality industries are trying to recover from the impacts of Covid-19, whether that’s catching up on staffing or trying to add more inventory, more supply,” says Chabarria.
COVID-19 remains the biggest concern for travelers. They’re taking precautions but not cancelling plans.
“We’ve been vaccinated and booster-ed. We pray that everyone around us have been doing the same thing. We’re wearing our masks. That’s all we can do,” says traveler Marianne Walden.
Don’t forget to plan ahead for weekend travel. All those folks who have hit the skies or roads have to get back home, so airports and highways will be busy once again.