Holiday travel numbers skyrocket ahead of Christmas

RICHLANDS, N.C. (WITN) – Travel experts predict a significant increase in the number of people traveling for the holidays through the end of 2021.

AAA predicts more than 109 million Americans will travel for the holidays.

It would be a 184% increase from the number of people who traveled for the holidays last year.

Airport workers in Eastern North Carolina say they have noticed the increase.

“We’re seeing heavy loads. We’re seeing summertime loads right now so expect the airplanes to be a little bit full,” Chris White, Albert J. Ellis Airport director said.

AAA predicts 6 million people will travel by plane over the holidays. White gave some tips for people looking to avoid traffic in the terminals or issues that would cause them to miss their flights.

“Arrive early — give yourself a little extra time. You can check in early for your flight also, that’s a good thing to do. If you’re only carrying on luggage you can bypass the ticket counter and come right up through the checkpoint,” White said.

Travel experts are also encouraging people to continue to exercise COVID safety protocols while going through airport terminals.

The CDC has updated international travel guidelines in wake of the rapidly spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus.

On December 6, all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, have been required to show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States.

White says abiding by safety protocols is especially important to avoid a shutdown of the aviation industry.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, aviation accounts for more than 5% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

And White says it accounts for 10% of the gross domestic product in Onslow County.

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