2021 sees a jump in people traveling for Thanksgiving compared to 2020

Here in North Carolina, more than 1 million people are expected to hit the highways and most are choosing to drive despite high gas prices.
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 11:33 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - According to AAA, more Americans are traveling this year compared to last year for Thanksgiving.

Here in North Carolina, more than 1 million people are expected to hit the highways and most are choosing to drive despite high gas prices.

The travelers at the airport are only a fraction of those people traveling this week for the holiday. AAA says between air and car, more than 53 million people are expected to travel for Thanksgiving.

Travelers we talked to in South Carolina who choose to drive this year tell WBTV it’s because of several reasons.

Some wanted a more relaxed approach to travel and decided to avoid airports altogether.

For others, the higher gas prices are a small price to pay to be with their family. This comes after many stayed home last year because of the pandemic.

“It’s a huge change, last year there was a lot of so much social distancing and personal time, so you were kind of by yourself, so it’s nice to once again get together and actually enjoy the holiday this year,” Heather Tartt said.

“We wanted to go to different places and stop by some places, and just relax a little bit, so that’s why we decided to drive,” said Samniang Mok.

South Carolina Highway Patrol wants people to be safe and plan their trip ahead of time.

“Take a few minutes to look up your route, know your route, check out if there’s any construction or possible detours that you need to know about,” said Master Trooper Garry Miller of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Air travel is expected to hit pre-pandemic levels this Thanksgiving holiday as AAA predicts 4 million people are catching flights nationally this year - an 80 percent increase from last year.

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport says Tuesday and Wednesday were the busiest travel days with an estimated 31 thousand people leaving from Charlotte.

“Unbelievably great, awesome, awesome, I thought it was going to be 3 hours at the airport,” said Rema Balaniz who traveled to Charlotte for the holiday.

Brian Shaw is leaving Charlotte and said his experience was “hectic, we had sort of a pre-thanksgiving at home this morning with family, and it’s been hectic coming here, traffic was a little bit heavy out there, here at the airport and outside of the airport on the interstate.”

Airport officials say the busiest days after Thanksgiving will be Saturday through Monday with an average of 30,000-35,000 people returning to Charlotte.

Traffic and TSA lines have been backed up at times, so the airport is telling people to arrive 2 hours early for domestic flights, and 3 hours early for international flights.

Also, if you’re parking here, you should try to reserve a spot online ahead of time.

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