NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Holiday travel is picking up across the Lowcountry with just days until Thanksgiving. Charleston International Airport officials say they anticipate the heaviest travel to happen on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Airport officials say they expect to far surpass the amount of travelers passing through Charleston International this Thanksgiving compared to last year. They say this year’s Thanksgiving week traveler count could be record setting, beating out totals set in 2019.
Thanksgiving travelers say they’re happy to be back in the skies, headed to spend time with family and friends after holidays cancelled by COVID-19.
“Really, really wonderful,” says Thomas Wilson, a traveler passing through the airport. “I’m really excited to see my family.”
Airport travelers aren’t the only ones noticing the higher number of passengers lining the terminal and security lines.
“It is going to be very busy here at Charleston International,” says Elliott Summey, Executive Director and CEO for the Charleston International Airport.
Staying COVID-19 free while traveling is a point of concern for many but some say they’re finally feeling some normalcy.
“Yeah I feel safe,” says Melissa Saint, a passenger flying home for the holidays. “I think if everyone takes care of themselves this makes it a lot faster for us to recover as a nation.”
Airport officials predict Thanksgiving traveler turnout to be up in a big way this week and are urging passengers to plan ahead accordingly.
“Try to get here a couple hours before if you can,” says Summey. “Go ahead and check those bags, get through TSA and then come relax at our beautiful airport.”
Officials at Charleston International say whether you’re hitting the check-in counter or heading to TSA, you should expect some delays.
“The TSA lines are going to be a little longer – just be patient with our folks, they’re getting folks through as fast as they can,” says Summey. “We want everybody to be happy but we also want everyone to be safe.”
Millions plan to travel by air, but AAA predicts more than 90% of travelers, roughly a total of 48 million Americans will take to the roads to reach their destination. Law enforcement says they’ll be watching for speeding, reckless and impaired driving.
“Driving is the most dangerous thing you do on a daily basis and there’s going to be a lot of people traveling,” says Trooper Nick Pye with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Drivers hitting the roads will likely feel an impact at the pump with the average price of gas sitting at $3.41 per gallon.
“You will see an extra amount of troopers on the roadway as well as other law enforcement officers,” says Trooper Pye.
Law enforcement and airport officials working to keep everyone safe this Thanksgiving. Travelers say they are just happy to be able to spend time around a fuller table.
“Remember your kids, remember your boarding pass, remember your luggage,” says Summey. “If you forget your mask, we’ve got you covered.”
“No just happy thanksgiving to everyone,” says Wilson.
Airport officials say they anticipate the busiest days for passengers returning to Charleston to take place on Sunday and Monday.