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What you need to know about traveling in Tampa Bay this Thanksgiving week

Veronica Brezina

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“It’s beginning to look more like a normal holiday travel season, compared to what we saw last year,” AAA VP of Travel Debbie Haas said in a news release. Photo: Federal Aviation Administration

Gobble gobble, get ready for a hefty helping of congestion and bottlenecks this week. 

The holidays are known for bringing the heaviest travel days on the road and in the sky, and it will especially be heavy this year as the pandemic is curtailing. 

In Florida, predicts the travel services organization AAA, roughly 2.9 million people will travel, which is a 13% increase over 2020, and Tampa is one of the most popular travel destinations. 

Tampa International Airport spokespeople said the busiest travel days will be Saturday. with more than 83,000 passengers arriving and departing. The second busiest day for the airport will be Sunday with approximately 80,000 passengers traveling. 

In comparison, last year TPA saw the passenger count closer to 50,000 people a day traveling. 

This year’s numbers are very similar to 2019 numbers at TPA, which claimed a record in holiday traffic. The current data means that the airport is reverting back to the activity levels it experienced pre-pandemic. 

The top travel locations this year are New York City, Atlanta and the Midwest Chicago area, according to a spokeswoman. 

As for the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, it expects to see 25,000 passengers departing and 25,000 arriving during the week. The busiest days are today (Wednesday, Nov. 24) and Sunday. 

“It’s beginning to look more like a normal holiday travel season, compared to what we saw last year,” AAA VP of Travel Debbie Haas said in a news release. “Now that U.S. borders are open, vaccinations are readily available and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holiday.” 

Despite the increase in gas prices, in Florida, 2.63 million people are expected to commute, according to AAA. 

INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts that drivers will face the most congestion during this holiday season during the afternoon.

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