Officials Expecting Record-Breaking Holiday Travel Numbers

Over 112.5 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday season

Shelby Cassesse
December 18, 2018 - 3:41 pm

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Wednesday marks the start of what officials say will be the busiest holiday travel period on record.

AAA forecasts a record-breaking 112.5 million travelers will either fly or drive at least 50 miles this holiday season, which is a 4.4 percent increase from last year. 

As a result, Pittsburgh International Airport expects to serve over half a million travelers within the next three weeks, capping its busiest year since 2007. Through November, the airport has seen 7.8 percent growth as a result of new nonstop flights and destinations added over the past year. They expect that trend to continue with the addition of nonstop service to London Heathrow beginning in 2019.

"We are marking our 31st month of passenger increases, which means we have more and more people going through the checkpoints," said Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis.

With continued growth at the airport combined with a busy holiday travel season ahead, AAA's Herman Jenkins suggests abiding by airport recommendations to show up for flights early. 

"Give yourself at least two hours in order to make your flight; longer if you're flying international. During peak travel times, contact airlines for guidance, as it might be necessary to arrive earlier than usual." 

Peak travel times are 5 to 7 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m., when security lines are expected to be longest. 

Officials also suggest packing items appropriately in carry-on bags and checked bags to expedite the security process. 

TSA Public Affairs Manager Lisa Farbstein says if travelers are bringing gifts onto flights, it is important to avoid wrapping paper. 

"If the gift alarms one of our x-ray machines through a carry-on through the checkpoint area, we're going to have to open that to make sure there's nothing dangerous inside. So, we recommend using gift bags, gift boxes."