TWIN FALLS — Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the entire year. People across the United States are ready to be with friends and family, especially following the events of the pandemic in 2020.
After so many families could not get together then, officials anticipate a resurgence in holiday travel next week.
“We’re seeing big numbers this year," said Matthew Conde, the Public Affairs Director for AAA of Idaho. "53.4 million Americans, about 290,000 Idahoans, so, it’s going to be busy out there. About six and a half million more travelers than last year.”
AAA is seeing growth in all forms of travel. They estimate roughly 90% of Thanksgiving travelers will choose to reach their destination by car, with nearly four million additional drivers on the road.
With the anticipated increase in drivers, officials encourage people to get on the roads early as possible.
“If you’re out there on the road this year, you’re going to see a substantial amount of people around you," said Conde. "So, obviously getting that early start is very important. You want to try and avoid those peak travel times.”
Officials also encourage people to pre-inspect their cars before driving as they are preparing to respond to 375,000 calls for roadside assistance nationwide.
Other forms of transportation like buses, trains, and cruises will also experience an increase in travelers. It is expected more than one million Americans will utilize these forms of transportation, which would result in a 292% improvement from 2020.
Airports will also be seeing a surge in passengers. Officials recommend that travelers going to other states take a look at COVID-19 restrictions to be prepared.
“Different states have different restrictions and those things are constantly in flux," said Conde. "A lot more things are certainly open than they were last year. But AAA does have a COVID-19 map with the latest information on it.”
Nationwide, AAA officials expect 80% growth for airlines, with 4.2 million Americans taking flights. These numbers indicate that air traffic volumes will be just 10% less than pre-pandemic numbers.
Unfortunately, not every airport will reap the benefits of a busy holiday season. Magic Valley Regional Airport is expecting fewer travelers than last year.
“There will be a lot more demand than we have capacity honestly," said Bill Carberry, the Manager of the Magic Valley Regional Airport. "We’ve seen a drawdown in routes in a lot of smaller markets this fall leading into ‘22 and we’re one of those. But we’ll have a lot of demand from folks wanting those seats that we do have.”
In 2019, the airport experienced over 7,000 travelers during the holiday season. In 2020, they only had 4,473.
The primary reason behind the low numbers for this year is the fact the airport had flights to and from Denver and Salt Lake, which were cut.
Despite the reduction in flights and expected low numbers of travelers utilizing the airport, officials are remaining optimistic.
“There’s still some excitement, and people will be traveling to go see family and friends, those types of things. So, I encourage people to get those tickets now that are available and have a good time and a good holiday.”