Thanksgiving travel numbers expected to reach close to pre-pandemic levels
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As millions across the country prepare their travel plans to their Thanksgiving destinations, officials at Richmond International Airport are getting ready for the holiday rush.
A spokesperson for Richmond International Airport predicts close to 150,000 visitors will go through the airport over the next 12 days until the Monday following Thanksgiving.
This includes Sheila Lillis, who touched down in Richmond on Thursday to spend the weekend in the River City.
Lillis’ flight is the first one she’s taken since the start of the pandemic.
“I felt like it was pretty safe,” she said. “Everybody wore their masks. No problems. No issues.”
Lillis is flying back to Kansas City on Monday and will be getting to the airport early.
“I think it will be a little bit more of a challenge on Monday,” she said.
Nationwide, the Transportation Security Administration expects to screen about 20 million passengers.
“We have indeed started to see a return to pre-pandemic levels,” said Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokesperson.
Farbstein encourages people to get to the airport at least two hours before their flight in anticipation of the holiday rush.
She said this would give people time to check in and go through the security checkpoint, especially if they’re bringing food for Thanksgiving dinner.
“We see people bring anything from a bottle of wine to a frozen turkey,” she said. “You can bring that turkey through the checkpoint, but the wine needs to go into your checked bag.”
Farbstein said you could carry your turkey, casserole and other solid food items with you on the plane.
However, the cranberry sauce, gravy and other liquids over 3.4 ounces will need to go into your checked luggage.
“You need to know which food items need to go in your checked bag, so you don’t get stuck at the checkpoint and perhaps lose something you were going to bring with you,” she said.
As thousands prepare to take their Thanksgiving flights, others are getting ready to hit the road.
A recent study by AAA found more than 1.3 million Virginians will drive to their Thanksgiving destinations.
To save time on the road, VDOT will suspend many highway work zones and lift most lane closures on interstates and other major roads from 12 p.m. on Nov. 24 until noon on Nov. 29.
As travel predictions resemble numbers close to those seen before COVID-19, travelers like Lillis are thankful for this moment.
“It’s great to be doing something that’s normal,” she said. “This is really normal, so it’s nice to be back flying.”
TSA also has an online checklist for travelers to see what they can and can’t bring to the airport.
TSA says the following Thanksgiving foods can be carried through a TSA checkpoint:
- Baked goods. Homemade or store-bought pies, cakes, cookies, brownies and other sweet treats
- Meats. Turkey, chicken, ham, steak. Frozen, cooked or uncooked
- Stuffing. Cooked, uncooked, in a box or in a bag
- Casseroles. Traditional green beans and onion straws or something more exotic
- Mac ‘n Cheese. Cooked in a pan or traveling with the ingredients to cook it at your destination
- Fresh vegetables. Potatoes, yams, broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beets, radishes, carrots, squash, greens
- Fresh fruit. Apples, pears, pineapple, lemons, limes, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, bananas.
TSA says the following Thanksgiving foods will need to be placed in your checked baggage:
- Cranberry sauce. Homemade or canned are spreadable, so check them.
- Gravy. Homemade or in a jar/can.
- Wine, champagne, sparking apple cider.
- Canned fruit or vegetables. It’s got liquid in the can, so check them.
- Preserves, jams and jellies. They are spreadable, so best to check them.
- Maple syrup.
Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.
Want NBC12’s top stories in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.