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Roads likely to be busy during peak Thanksgiving travel times

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Law enforcement and groups that track travel expect the highways to be packed this Thanksgiving as travel rebounds to nearly pre-pandemic levels. AAA says it is expecting 53.4 million people to travel this holiday -- 48.3 million by car and 4.2 million by air. 

If you choose to drive, expect gas to be higher. Gas is around 3.07 at some Columbia gas stations and that's over a dollar more than last year according to reports.

When ABC 17 was out talking to drivers today, one driver told said, It is what it is when it comes to gas prices. He told ABC 17 that he and his family haven't traveled to together in more than a year. Now that his family is fully vaccinated, he doesn't mind paying the higher price.

Highways will be more packed at certain times as people travel to and from their Thanksgiving destinations. AAA, citing travel analytics firm INRIX, says the worst travel times are:

  • Noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday
  • Noon to 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day
  • 1 to 4 p.m. Friday
  • 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday
  • 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday

AAA also suggests the best times to travel:

  • After 9 p.m. Wednesday
  • Before 11 a.m. Thursday
  • Before 11 a.m. Friday
  • Before noon Saturday and Sunday

The Missouri State Highway Patrol advises drivers to make sure their vehicles are in good working condition before setting out on holiday travels.

Some auto shops are open Wednesday and on Thanksgiving, allowing travelers who want to avoid peak travel times a chance to get a last-minute oil change and fluid check.

Corporal Kyle Green with Missouri State Highway Patrol also says to keep safety first as you travel this holiday. "Make sure everybody has a seatbelt on and that you're not riding with somebody who's impaired by drugs or alcohol. When you get out on the road, you know, put the phone down" said Green.

AAA recommends air travelers arriving at the airport early to account for longer TSA lines and other travel checkpoints. For domestic travel, AAA suggests arriving two hours ahead of departure time and three hours early for international flights.

When ABC 17 news arrived at Columbia Regional Airport this afternoon, only a few people were in the lobby waiting. Columbia Regional Airport Manager, Mike Parks told ABC 17 this afternoon there were no delays or cancellations with any flights.

ABC 17 Looked at the flights in Columbia and the next one is set to leave at 7:37 pm Wednesday evening. Parks says people will need says show up early.

"This time of the year we have longer lines. So of course, we recommend everybody make sure you show up plenty earlier for your flight, extra early this time of year and make sure you pack your bags according to TSA rules" said Parks.

According to AAA, a little over 51,000 people in Missouri will be flying. ABC 17 also looked at flight departures out of St.Louis . The only flight that delayed at this time is will be the one going to Phoenix.

If you haven't already booked a flight, AAA recommends booking as soon as possible.

Joushua Blount

Joushua Blount hails from Cleveland, Ohio and has a bachelor’s degree in media communications from the University of Toledo. He also has a master’s degree from the University Of Alabama. Roll Tide!

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