ST. LOUIS – The day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the holiday. 

The American Automobile Association (AAA) expects nearly 55 million Americans will travel during the long holiday weekend. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint line was crowded Wednesday with travelers heading out early at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. 

Airport officials project passenger levels for this Thanksgiving holiday to be remarkably close to where they were pre-pandemic in 2019. 

Officials urged travelers to consider planning and to be patient. 

“We just always remind them to give themselves time during the holidays,” said Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegee, airport director at St. Louis International Airport. “Especially if you’re traveling with children or with anyone who needs assistance, a lot of packages, just be patient.” 

“We got here early because I figured a lot of people will be traveling,” said Sasa Dzaseragic, a traveler. “So, we wanted to make sure we were here early. We wanted to make sure we get to the gate early, you know, I felt like a lot of people are getting back to traveling.” 

A spokesperson from AAA said drivers will see a reduction in gas prices as they travel for Thanksgiving. According to AAA Missouri, the state’s overall gas price average dropped to its lowest level since February, ahead of the holiday. 

The statewide average gas price in Missouri is $3.22 for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel, according to the AAA Missouri weekend gas watch. The price is 10 cents less compared to last week and is 15 cents more per gallon compared to 2021. Of the major metropolitan areas surveyed in Missouri, drivers in Jefferson City are paying the most on average at $3.44 per gallon, while drivers in St. Louis are paying the least at $3.09 per gallon.  

“I’m excited that they are finally lower because they have been too high,” said Megan Doyle. 

The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.64, which is 12 cents less than last week and 23 cents more than the price per gallon at this same time last year, according to AAA Gas Prices

Drivers at Wally’s gas station in Fenton said this is welcome news and it comes at a perfect time to help people at the pump. 

“I like the gas prices,” said Tom Dodson. “I like them going down, they need to keep going down.” 

Lambert Airport officials said passengers need to arrive two hours early to make sure they can make their flight on time. The busiest day for return travel is Sunday.