Will the Airports Be Ready to Handle a Huge Increase in Travelers This Thanksgiving?

TSA administrator David Pekoske reassured Americans they would be able to handle the rush despite reports of staff shortages. Thanksgiving travel is up an estimated 80% from last year, and a large storm forecasted in the Northeast could complicate things.

Thanksgiving is next week, but some savvy travelers are already heading out on their vacations to beat the rush. 

“A lot of people now are working remotely and are realizing they can get there early, spend extra time with their families and still get to work,” Pauline Frommer of Frommer Travel Guides told Inside Edition.

Thanksgiving travel is back to pre-pandemic levels this year. Fifty-three million people are expected to take to the roads, rails and skies — that’s 80% more than last year. 

But will the airports be ready?

The head of the TSA made the rounds of the morning shows this week to reassure everyone that they can handle the crowds, despite reports of staff shortages due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“We're very confident this is going to be a very smooth operation over the next several days," David Pekoske said.

Some airlines are offering major incentives to their staff to work during the holiday. Southwest Airlines is paying their ground crews triple overtime.

But American Airlines pilots union spokesman Captain Dennis Tajer says passengers should brace for the worse if the weather turns nasty.

"Every time there's a major weather event — not even major — it's the recovery that these airlines, including American, have been ineffective in executing," Tajer said.

WHDH-TV Boston meteorologist Josh Wurster says a “significant storm” may slam the Northeast just before Thanksgiving, with the heaviest rainfall and gustiest winds on Monday.

By Tuesday, the worst of the storm will have passed, Wurster said.

The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, and that will be a whole lot pricier this year. Gas prices continue to increase, with the national average at $3.41 versus $2.12 one year ago.

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