SARASOTA — Busier than ever highways and airports are forecast for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday travel next week, and travel experts and airline officials say they’re doing what they can to help millions of travelers arrive safely to their destinations.
According to the national Auto Club Group AAA, this Thanksgiving approximately 210,000 Floridians will fly for the holiday. The number is 12,000 more than in 2022, about a 6% increase from last year.
Airline travel for Floridians is projected to be the second-highest air travel volume in 15 years, just behind 2019 numbers.
Nationwide, more than 55.3 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving. It’s the third-largest travel volume on record, nearly 1.3 million (2.3%) more than last year, though less than 2019 and 2005 levels.
How many people will be traveling through SRQ airport?
The heavy levels of travel are expected to continue at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport this holiday, too.
The airport has seen a rapid increase in passengers in the past few years, with an 8.6% increase in travel traffic compared to October last year, said Mark Stuckey, airport executive vice president and chief of staff.
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“For the month of November, we’ve had 5% more scheduled seats over the previous year. It’s a little bit higher number and we are planning for that. We know exactly what’s coming in and what’s going out, so we’ve added extra staffing. We are ready and have a plan in place,” Stuckey said.
The airport will see approximately 20,000 seats per day leading up to and through Thanksgiving. Still, this holiday week won’t be as busy as the peak month of March at Sarasota-Bradenton, Stuckey said.
“We’re making accommodations for additional parking. There are usually more vehicles parked here as people travel to visit families and friends for Thanksgiving. We expect everything to go off without a hitch and to run quite smoothly throughout the week,” he said.
What are some Thanksgiving travel tips?
Stuckey’s tips for tackling Thanksgiving travel this upcoming week include:
- Checking the TSA app and website for updates.
- Drivers should use the new cell phone lot while waiting for arriving passengers.
- Arrive early − up to two hours is best to avoid traffic.
- Check airlines for updates.
- Keep an eye on the weather updates.
Tampa International Airport expecting more than 80,000 travelers per day
Tampa International Airport is also prepping for what its officials also expect to be its busiest Thanksgiving ever.
In previous years, nearly 80,000 daily passengers passed through Tampa International between Nov. 16 and Nov. 26. This holiday travel period surrounding Thanksgiving, officials expect a holiday surge of passengers at the airport with estimated estimated 84,000 to 87,000 traveling through TPA on the Wednesday before and Sunday following Thanksgiving.
Air travel isn’t the only method that will be busier than before the global pandemic this holiday season.
According to AAA, most Thanksgiving travelers will drive to their destinations this year. The company predicts nearly 2.8 million Floridians will take a road trip of 50 miles or more. The number is an increase of nearly 71,000 Florida drivers ( around 2.6%) than last year. This year’s forecasted auto travel volume is 10,000 shy of the all-time high, set during the 2005 Thanksgiving holiday weekend.