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Holiday travel expected to break records

A look at the lobby and TSA checkpoint early Thursday morning at the Savannah-Hilton Head...
A look at the lobby and TSA checkpoint early Thursday morning at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport.(WTOC)
Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 6:00 AM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Starting Thursday, roughly 109 million people across the U.S. are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home over the next 10 days. About 6 million of those people will be flying to their destinations, according to AAA.

Thursday will be busy at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, and it is expected to stay busy all the way through the New Year.

According to AAA’s flight booking data, ticket prices to fly this week are up 5 percent from last year, with the average lowest round-trip fare of $154 for major U.S. destinations. But the price increase is not stopping travelers from flying this holiday.

At the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, they are seeing a 25 percent increase from travelers they had last Christmas. Airport officials are expecting around 30,000 people to pass through the airport between Wednesday, Dec. 22 and Sunday, Dec. 26.

Not only are they expecting long lines at TSA and ticketing, but they are expecting to have to use the overflow parking lots, which will take some extra time for travelers so be prepared.

Some travelers that already arrived in Savannah say they had a smooth trip and are excited to spend time with family.

“It feels great, we couldn’t wait to get out of the routine scenery, have a change of scenery and especially spend time together on Christmas. It’s great,” said Kunal Dave, from New Jersey.

“I hope everybody has a happy holiday and gets to spend it with family since this is year two of the pandemic, and just enjoy the time that they can have together,” said Casey Connolly, from Pennsylvania.

While many people are coming to the Coastal Empire to visit friends and family, others just wanted to get away with their loved ones and are exploring Savannah for the first time this holiday.

“We have an Airbnb near the beach and we know it is not going to be warm enough, but it will be warm enough coming from New Jersey,” said Mary Jo Mendoza, visiting from New Jersey.

“We’re really happy that the weather is warmer than it is at home and just looking forward to a nice Savannah week,” said Elizabeth Conti, visiting from Pennsylvania.

In Savannah, the airport has not noticed any impact of travelers canceling due to Covid and the Omicron variant concerns. So be prepared for it to be busy. Travelers are advised to arrive two hours before their flight. And be sure to go through your bag and take out any items that cannot go through TSA. For a list of things you can and cannot take on flights, click here. For flight arrival and departure times at Savannah-Hilton Head International, click here.

If you are driving to your destination Thursday, the worst time to hit the road is from noon to 6 p.m., and the best time will be after 7 p.m. The Georgia and South Carolina departments of transportation are working to help ease any traffic backups for your drive. They are stopping lane closures on interstates and highways for any non-emergency road work. For Georgia, it began Thursday, Dec. 23 at 5 a.m. and will remain in effect until 5 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 27. In South Carolina, it starts Thursday, Dec. 23 at 6 a.m. and will last until 10 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 3.

And AAA is once again offering Tow to Go in select states during the final week of the holiday season, serving as the last line of defense to keep impaired drivers off the road. How it works is a tow truck will take you and your vehicle to a safe place within 10 miles for free. However, AAA does ask that this be treated as a backup plan. The service will begin 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 24 and last through 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 3. All you have to do is call 855-2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246. This service is only offered in FL, GA, IA, MI, ND, NE, TN, WI, CO (Denver), NC (Charlotte) and IN (Fort Wayne/South Bend).

And to check average gas prices for any state in the U.S., click here.

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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