53 million people expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday

Memorial Day Travel Pennsylvania
Posted at 2:34 PM, Nov 22, 2021

53 million, that's the number of people expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday.

This data is according to AAA who says air travel will be up 80%, compared to 2020, with nearly 4.5 million people expected to travel by air.

This comes as TSA employees hit their COVID-19 vaccination deadline on Monday.

We checked in with nearby airports on what you and your family can expect this holiday season.

The American Automobile Association says we may see one of the highest days in TSA travel history, with nearly 6.5 million more people traveling this Thanksgiving compared to last year.

Holly Collins Dalby is the Director of Public Affairs with AAA Tidewater. She said, "We are really returning to that pre-COVID travel demand that we saw in 2019.”

One big reason for this is international travelers and those flying from other countries will not only mean more foot traffic, but with more documents to show at the airport, they may make lines move even slower.

"If you're traveling internationally, you're going to have to show most likely proof of vax and other travel docs before you board that plane,” Collins said.

AAA said 10% of Virginians are expected to fly this holiday, a 75% increase from 2020.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 93% of TSA employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 98% of those work within customers and border protection.

News 3 spoke with TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein who says they don't expect this COVID-19 vaccine mandate to impact holiday travel.

“We do not expect that to impact our ability to screen passengers at all because there has been a very high compliance rate, we do, however, expect to see an uptick of people traveling for thanksgiving....and were staffed for that. We’re offering overtime. If people want to work some OT. If flights are delayed because of weather we might have to call in some extra people,” she said.

While TSA and triple AAA expect a packed airport every day starting Tuesday and lasting through the weekend -- they say if you're traveling on Wednesday you'll want to plan some extra time -- and Sunday -- as the Sunday after Thanksgiving is consistently the busiest day of the year for airports.