Bradley International Airport Credit: file photo

While most people are expected to drive, air travel is increasing this Thanksgiving holiday. Bradley International Airport is expecting 90,000 people to pass through its gates this week during a busy Thanksgiving holiday.

The busiest days will be Tuesday and Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday and the following Saturday and Sunday. 

“We are excited to kick off the holiday season at Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin A. Dillon, A.A.E., executive director of the CAA. “The airport community has been working diligently behind the scenes to prepare for the busy travel season and is committed to assisting passengers on their journey to take their vacations and reunite with family members. We thank our loyal passengers for choosing Bradley for their holiday travel and look forward to welcoming them this season.” 

The end of November represents the start of the holiday travel season for Bradley, which the airport says continues through the new year.

Bradley International Airport saw 6.7 million total passengers in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, according to data from the Connecticut Airport Authority. In 2020, amidst travel bans and business shutdowns, the airport’s passenger count dropped to 2.4 million. In 2021 the industry recovered a bit, with 4.6 million passengers visiting Bradley that year, and the airport has almost reached that number already in 2022.

Air travel is up nearly 8% over 2021, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That’s an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and nearly 99% of the 2019 volume. 

“Airport parking spaces fill up fast, so reserve a spot ahead of time and arrive early,” Paula Twidale, AAA’s Senior Vice President of Travel, said. “Anticipate long TSA lines. If possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed or you need to reschedule.”

AAA predicts 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. 

Most travelers will drive to their destinations, much like last year. Nearly 49 million people are expected to travel by car. While Thanksgiving road trips have slightly risen – up 0.4% from 2021 – car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels.

More than 1.4 million travelers are going out of town for Thanksgiving by bus, train, or cruise ship. That’s an increase of 23% from 2021 and 96% of the 2019 volume. 

“With travel restrictions lifted and more people comfortable taking public transportation again, it’s no surprise buses, trains, and cruises are coming back in a big way,” Twidale adds. “Regardless of the mode of transportation you have chosen, expect crowds during your trip and at your destination. If your schedule is flexible, consider off-peak travel times during the holiday rush.”