Nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians expected to travel for Thanksgiving holiday, AAA says

PITTSBURGH — According to AAA, 1.7 million Pennsylvanians will be traveling this week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Pittsburgh International Airport says 200,000 of them will be traveling through its terminal.

Travel industry experts say Thanksgiving travel is bouncing back close to pre-pandemic levels.

“Nationally, TSA is expecting 2.5 million people on the peak days of travel during this period, which are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterwards,” said Matt Neistein, Pittsburgh International Airport’s public affairs manager.

Overall, AAA is expecting this Thanksgiving to be the third-busiest for travel since it began tracking that data in 2000.

In fact, its analysts are anticipating travel volume to reach 98% of numbers recorded in 2019.

“For some families it’s been several years since they have seen their family and their friends. They’re ready to get back in person and spend that time with loved ones,” said Tiffany Stanley, with AAA East Central.

This year’s expected 1.5% increase over last year comes despite rising costs.

“Hotel prices are up 15%, airlines are up 22%, and so, as we know gas prices are still up and that’s not deterring anyone from traveling this holiday season,” said Stanley.

While driving for Thanksgiving is more common by a large margin, industry experts expect air travel nationwide to be up 8% this year over last year, with 4.5 million Americans taking to the skies.

That means you had better get to the airport early.

“We typically say get here two hours on a regular day, right? We would say probably closer to three, now, with lines coming in, particularly we have a lot of flights leaving in the morning,” said Neistein.

Meanwhile, Stanley advises drivers to avoid hitting the road between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, if possible.

“Your best bet is to leave as early as you can,” she said. “Get on the road before 8 a.m., if not, wait until 8 p.m. until traffic dies down.”