Travel nears pre-pandemic levels as Thanksgiving rush nears


ST. LOUIS – Travel is up both on the roads and in the air when compared to 2020 but still below pre-pandemic levels. Passengers have flooded St. Louis Lambert Airport trying to beat the holiday rush.

“It seems like everybody wants to get out this year,” said plane traveler Barry Jackson.

“I figured it would be a lighter travel crowd and figured it would make my life easier,” said traveler and Washington University student Ben Baisinger-Rosen. “I haven’t seen my family since I moved for college so it’ll be nice to see them.”

Travel at Lambert on Monday is busy but not when compared to the rest of the week.

“It’s going to all be about getting acclimated again to being a traveler,” said Roger Lotz, an airport spokesman.

Airport officials expect the number of travelers to be much higher now than at the same time last year.

“We’re probably going to be 13.5% to 14% below where we were in 2019 but that’s still a great increase from what we were last year,” Lotz said.

The busiest days are projected to be Tuesday at just over 17,000, Wednesday nearing 17,400, and the highest will be Sunday with around 18,300 traveling home.

“It was actually $200-$300 cheaper to get a ticket now,” said Saint Louis University student Julianne Emerson.

Airport officials remind passengers to arrive early, bring a mask, and come prepared for crowds.

“Less rush, less lines right now so it’s a win-win for our family,” said St. Louis resident Neeta Cantu.

If you’re planning to take to the roads, travel is up from last year but still not making it to pre-COVID levels.

“I’m vaccinated, got my booster shot but I worry about COVID jumping onto me and then jumping off of me and then onto someone else who may have a compromised immune system,” said Overland resident Karen King.

According to AAA, travel in Missouri by car is up 13% from 2020, 5% away from pre-pandemic levels.

But the ever-rising gas prices are an issue.

“I was going to travel to Iowa but the gas prices are really crazy, so I just decided not to, it’s just more convenient not to spend the money on it,” said Phoenix King.

A lot to think about as travelers make a comeback.

Travelers wait ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Missouri on November 22, 2021. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

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