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Thanksgiving travelers: Here’s what to expect

Veronica Brezina

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The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. Photo by James Borchuck/PIE.

As family and friends flock to Tampa Bay to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, local airports are preparing for the surge of activity and traffic from both departing and arriving passengers. 

Officials at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) expect 70,000 passengers flying in and out between now and Nov. 28. The busiest day for departing flights, they say, will be Sunday, Nov. 27, with 4,822 passengers. 

PIE is advising travelers to hail rides to the airport as the parking options are limited. 

The airport officials said they expect to close its long-term parking today, Monday. The economy and overflow parking lots are expected to reach capacity on Wednesday. 

As many as 75,000 to 80,000 passengers are expected through Tampa International Airport during the Thanksgiving period, one of its busiest times of the year. 

TPA officials expect an average of approximately 70,000 passengers a day over the holiday, up from the daily average of approximately 55,000 passengers in recent months. The busiest days will be the Saturdays and Sundays before and after Thanksgiving, according to TPA. 

Travelers and those picking them up should be aware that higher volumes could mean more road congestion, fewer parking spaces and longer lines upon arrival at TPA. It’s suggested – by PIE and TPA administrators – that travelers should arrive at least two hours before their flight departs.

TPA also offers online, discounted booking for parking.

The auto club AAA reports that the Florida Thanksgiving travel season is expected to be the busiest since 2005.

It forecasts more than 2.9 million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving, representing 50,000 (2%) more than last year’s holiday and nearly 22,000 (0.74%) more than 2019.

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