Watch CBS News

Thanksgiving travel: airports, train stations packed, long lines

Thanksgiving travel: long lines move quickly at Philadelphia airport
Thanksgiving travel: long lines move quickly at Philadelphia airport 04:24

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- About 55 million Americans are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Across the region Wednesday, the Thanksgiving travel rush was in full swing as many are trying to make it home to see family for dinner Thursday.

And for some families, it will be the first time they've gathered in two years, after the coronavirus pandemic slowed travel. AAA says travel is expected to hit pre-pandemic levels and in southeastern Pennsylvania, more than 670,000 people are expected to travel 50 miles or more.

Best times to travel for Thanksgiving

When is the best day to travel for Thanksgiving? 01:33

Approximately 63,000 people in the region will travel by air to reach their destinations.

"People tell AAA that they will make adjustments in their budgets in order to compensate for the ability to travel," said Jana Tidwell, AAA spokesperson. CBS3's Wakisha Bailey interviewed Tidwell at the Philadelphia International Airport.

There was a steady stream of travelers arriving at the airport and making their way through security checkpoints. 

"No matter what, people find a way to travel, especially for the Thanksgiving holiday," Tidwell said. "People are willing and eager to travel again, there is that pent up demand...this for many people is the first Thanksgiving in two years where they can be around family and friends."

Meanwhile, airport officials are warning travelers that parking garages at PHL are filling up fast.

Airport spokesperson Heather Redfern says parking will fill up quickly, especially as about 80,000 passengers will be flying out Wednesday. It's why she recommends looking at other options.

"If you still have time before you head out to the airport, do your homework. Figure out how you're getting to the airport. Is somebody going to drop you off or are you going to take rideshare or Uber or Lyft? Can you take public transportation because there is limited parking in our garages and our economy lot?" Redfern said. 

Here are some tips to make your trip go as smoothly as possible.

  • Check-in ahead of time
  • Check your flight status before leaving your house
  • Arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure
  • Make a plan for parking vehicles in advance 

Driving to Thanksgiving celebrations? Here are some safety tips

Despite high gas prices, about 595,000 people in the Delaware Valley are expected to travel by car for their Thanksgiving travel, AAA said.

Officials advise you to wear a seat belt, avoid distractions - like texting - and never drink and drive. Here are some travel tips if your are heading on a Thanksgiving road trip. 

  • Traffic is expected to be more than double the usual on Wednesday
  • You should try and hit the road during off-peak times
  • Pack a vehicle emergency kit in case you get stuck somewhere

Train stations busy before Thanksgiving

Trains packed as travelers head out for Thanksgiving 02:19

The first train departed 30th Street Station on Wednesday morning, heading for Newport News, Virginia. At last check, that train was about 90% full.

Last year, nearly 100,000 Philadelphians traveled by train for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Amtrak tells CBS3 they're still only seeing about 80% of the passengers they saw before the pandemic, but ridership is bouncing back.

CBS3 spoke with a family that was getting ready to take a train to see family in Virginia.

They say they booked the first train of the day to avoid all the crowds and inconveniences that come with holiday travel.

"Sometimes it gets real hectic when there's a lot of people around, and people get frustrated," Sean Townsend, a Virginia-bound traveler, said. "So we are avoiding everything, that's why we came so early. Ready for the holidays, turkey, let's go."

Amtrak officials say they've been increasing the number of trains in operation this week to try and keep up with the demand, but they're asking riders to buy a ticket ahead of time to help the process run smoothly.

When you're getting ready to take your train, Amtrak urges you to arrive at least 30 minutes before you board and even earlier if you have larger luggage.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.