LYNCHBURG, Va. – It’s the start of the holiday week travel rush.
Millions are either on the move or about to be for Thanksgiving, a number that hasn’t been reached since before the start of the pandemic.
Whether by car or by plane, preparation is key for getting to the final destination.
“It’s been a few years,” David Lewis says. “Yeah, about three or four years.”
After spending the morning with his brother in Bedford, Lewis will make the three-hour trek to West Virginia to visit his great grandmother Thursday.
“I’ve been trying to see here as much as I can,” he says. “She’s not getting any younger.”
The early birds are getting ahead of the traffic, including Liberty University student Lily Small.
“My friend lives in South Carolina,” Small says. “I’m driving to her place for break.”
According to Gas Buddy, roads will be the busiest on Wednesday and Sunday this week between noon and 8 p.m. It will also be the most expensive Thanksgiving since 2013, with an average price of $3.41 per gallon.
For those like Small, it beats the cost of buying a plane ticket.
“They were several hundred dollars and even train tickets were too expensive,” she says.
Tickets are sky-high because airports nationwide still aren’t at full capacity. Fewer seats and more people wanting to fly are jacking up the price.
Staffing has also been an issue for airports since the pandemic, one that has the potential to get worse with a vaccine mandate going into effect.
“TSA has been staffed up today, which is good. The federal vaccine mandate kicked in today for them,” Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport Director of Marketing Brad Boettcher says. “We’re not sure what type of impact that could have on them.”
Boettcher says locally they’re seeing about 1,000 people a day. He suggests getting to the airport at least an hour and a half before the flight.
“If they miss their flight for whatever reason they might have to go out of market, or it might take them a few days before they can get booked on another flight,” he adds.