Holiday travel expectations inch closer to pre-pandemic levels

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 5:47 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Overall, Americans aren’t yet traveling at pre-pandemic levels, on the roads or in the sky.

But experts say we’re getting closer this year, and being prepared for that kind of traffic at the gate or the interstate will make for smoother sailing.

“We are looking at a rebound close to what we saw in 2019 pre-pandemic,” said Morgan Dean with AAA Mid-Atlantic.

He said Tuesday more than a million Virginians are hitting the road for Thanksgiving.

And air travel, while still in recovery, is promising.

“We’ve been off to a great start, it really kicked off last Thursday,” said Bradley Boettcher, Director of Marketing and Air Service Development at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. “And the levels we had Thursday through Sunday for that initial burst of traffic were on par with what we saw in 2019.”

That said, pack your masks, your patience and perhaps a little something to eat if you’re hopping to some bigger hubs.

“They don’t have all the food service restored, so if you are taking a longer trip, definitely pack some snacks,” Boettcher said.

And consider keeping your distance not just from other people, but other cars on the road.

“Really watch your speed,” said Dean. “Unfortunately, crashes involving high speed have continued into this year, even as things have gotten back a little closer to normal.”

He recommends watching your budget, too.

“Drivers heading out for the holiday should expect to pay some of the highest gas prices they’ve paid since back in 2014.″

Boettcher said several airlines have suffered operational meltdowns over the last few months. Carriers tell him that they’re working to make schedules more manageable for staff and incentivizing holiday workdays with extra pay.

Now, he said, the only major factor in disrupting your trip could be the weather.

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