Holiday travel on the upswing this Thanksgiving, AAA says

PHIL DRAKE

AAA predicts 53.4 million people in the U.S. will hit the road — and ride the skies — this Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020 and the single-biggest year increase since 2005.

This brings travel volumes within 5% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with air travel almost completely recovering from its dramatic fall during the pandemic, up 80% over last year, AAA spokeswoman Ellen Edmonds said earlier this month.

It amounts to 6.4 million more people traveling this Thanksgiving than in 2020. Despite gas costing over a dollar more per gallon than it did this time last year, 90% of people plan to travel by car as their preferred mode of travel, AAA said.

Jeff Wadekamper, director of the Helena Regional Airport, said flights in and out of the airport so far this week were carrying “pretty good loads.”

“The flights are going to be very full,” he said. “Things are looking good and it will be a busy week for us.”

However, the local numbers will be about 28% less than 2019 pre-pandemic levels, when the airport had seven flights in and out per day.

That figure has since been cut to five, Wadekamper said, noting that airlines have reduced service nationally,

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