CHICAGO (CBS) — Just as the nation’s highways are going to be crowded on Wednesday, so too are America’s flyways, as travelers head out for the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The terminals at O’Hare International Airport already are festooned with the colors of Christmas ahead of Thanksgiving, and it seemed to be putting travelers in a festive state of mind, despite the huge crowds.
According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, passenger volume at O’Hare and Midway International Airport is expected to increase by nearly 5.5 percent over last Thanksgiving weekend.
Approximately 1.5 million people are expected to travel through O’Hare between yesterday and Monday, with another 540,000 travelers flying through Midway during the week.
Sunday is expected to be the busiest day at both airports, with about 260,000 travelers at O’Hare, and more than 90,000 at Midway.
Kelly Hutchison said the surge in traffic on Wednesday was reflected by the number of passengers on his Blue Line train to O’Hare.
“Have you ever seen Spongebob, and the sardine bus? It was like that. It was pretty ridiculous,” he said.
Transportation Security Administration officials estimated 25 million people nationwide would be filing through airport security checkpoints during Thanksgiving week.
Flying for the holiday will cost you, with the average ticket price during the holiday week running just under $480 roundtrip.
If you haven’t booked a flight already, last minute ticket availability is expected to be very limited.
Of course, people are willing to pay the jacked-up prices for a chance to engage in rhetorical swordplay with family and friends at the dinner table, or to simply escape the cold of Chicago for the warmth of a holiday vacation in Mexico.
Ed Pedraza was headed to Boston to visit his brother and mother, and it will be a homecoming for Poli, the dog his mom had to give up when she moved to a new home.
Just as his mother is looking forward to seeing Poli, Pedraza is certain the pooch is also looking forward to the reunion.
“He’ll go insane,” Pedraza said.
If you’re driving for the holiday instead, gas prices are way down across Illinois in the past month, by nearly 30 cents from late October, and the lowest since March, at an average of $2.57 per gallon. In Indiana, gas prices also are down significantly, at an average of $2.42 per gallon, down 34 cents from last month, and 23 cents from last year.
“Motorists in Illinois and Indiana can be thankful for strong oil inventories and low demand, which have set the table for some of the lowest gas prices of the year.” said Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA. “This is perfect timing as motorists hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Nearly 49 million Americans will be taking a road trip of at least 50 miles for Thanksgiving this year, up about 5 percent over last year. In Illinois, 2.5 million people will hit the road for the holiday, an increase of 4.7 percent from 2017. About 1.1 million Hoosiers will be driving for the holiday, up 4.6 percent from last year.