Many gearing up to travel for Thanksgiving
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Millions of Americans including folks in Michiana are preparing to take to the friendly skies or hit the road this Thanksgiving, with holiday travel finally expected to reach pre-pandemic levels.
People are finally feeling comfortable to travel again, whether that be flying or driving. But with the weather potentially playing a role, coupled with the uptick in travelers, officials are urging everyone to remain calm.
“I say everybody needs to pack their patience. You know the airlines are doing the very best to get everybody to and from their destinations safely and timely. So, there is going to be a lot of people traveling through the airport,” said Julie Curtis the Vice President of Marketing and Air Service Development at the South Bend International Airport.
A record of 26 million travelers passed through U.S. airports in 2019 Curtis, including thousands in South Bend. Curtis said they’re ready for this season’s holiday travel numbers to rebound to those pre-pandemic levels.
“Our staffing levels for the airport authority, which includes our maintenance staff, our administration staff, our operations department, and our safety is at the same levels at what it has been prior to the pandemic. We were able to keep our staffing levels the same so all of our partners they are well equipped to handle the increase in traffic that we have coming our way,” added Curtis.
With vaccines helping ease pandemic concerns, a local travel agent said they’ve already seen an influx in bookings, including more demand than availability.
“Well it’s wonderful to see a demand. We we are seeing more families wanting to travel together and the demand has been greater than what is available for travel, so some of them are putting it off till summer, but many of the families are going at the holiday time,” said Michele Boyd the President and Owner of Signal Travel & Tours.
When it comes to those who prefer to drive instead of fly, Gasbuddy said only 32% of Americans plan to hit the road this Thanksgiving, a decrease of about 35% from last year.
“I don’t want to travel just because of how high gas prices are and even while traveling you’re still going to have to fill up your gas and it’s probably even higher in different places that you’re visiting,” said Michiana resident Brooklynn Bledsoe.
Another local resident even said if gas prices were lower she wouldn’t hesitant to hit the road this holiday season.
“Yes. Definitely. It definitely would, not like travel to like California or anything but it would definitely help me travel to see my family, especially during the holidays.”
If folks are still planning on heading out whether that be on the road or in the sky, officials urge everyone to allow yourself more time. Check the weather and any flight updates before you head out, and of course pack your mask and your patience this holiday season.