ST. LOUIS – Millions of Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday, hitting the roads, railways, and skies.

The National Transportation Safety Administration tells people who are flying to pack their bags early and get to the airport where they are leaving early.

If you’re flying into St. Louis-Lambert International Airport this week for Thanksgiving, officials warn you to expect long lines.

Millions of people are expected to fly this holiday, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s a busy holiday season. We are pretty excited. So, if we look at the number’s especially tomorrow, Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and Sunday, the day after, we are right on par with pre-pandemic levels,” said Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, director of St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.

AAA predicts 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, with many taking to the skies.

“(Wednesday) we will have about 20,000 people going through the checkpoint; Sunday, over 21,000. If you take the connecting traffic and the people coming or going on the airplane, we will see 40,000 to 43,000 (people) a day,” Hamm-Niebruegge said.

AAA says this year is projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA began tracking in 2000.

“Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” says Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel. “Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether you’re driving or flying.”

Most travelers will drive to their destinations, much like last year. Nearly 49 million people are expected to travel by car. While Thanksgiving road trips have slightly risen, up 0.4% from 2021, car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels.

Air travel is up nearly 8% over 2021, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That’s an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and nearly 99% of the 2019 volume.

“Airport parking spaces fill up fast, so reserve a spot ahead of time and arrive early,” Twidale said. “Anticipate long TSA lines. If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed, or you need to reschedule.”

Over at the Kirkwood Train Station, volunteers say they are ready for the holiday travel.

“We expect be we are always busy for the holiday, yes. We got new cars on this line, newest ones in the Amtrak system, much more convenient and comfortable than the older ones cost, ” said volunteer Joe Wolf.

As you head home head for the holidays, authorities are asking travelers to be patient, as this will help make for a more joyful season.