BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hitting the roads, skies, or rails this holiday season? With just five days until Christmas, the holiday travel scramble is in full swing.
On Sunday, there was a steady flow of traffic coming through the Branford rest stop off I-95, but in the coming days, more cars and travelers are expected.
AAA predicts nearly 110 million Americans will travel within the country from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2, which is up 34% from 2020 after people canceled their plans due to the pandemic. These numbers are also just 8% shy of pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
As the roads will be busy this holiday season, airport authorities say volume is back to near pre-pandemic levels. U.S. airlines are gearing up for a nearly 200% increase in passengers from last year.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Dec. 23 and Jan. 3 are projected to be the busiest days at airports. Some travelers say being vaccinated and boosted made them feel better about getting together with loved ones.
Lines at Bradley International Airport were wrapped around the airport as people were traveling to Florida, Chicago, DC, and Atlanta early Monday morning. Their busiest times are estimated to be between 4 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Bradley International Airport is working to make this experience festive for travelers with therapy dogs, complimentary gift wrapping, and even choir performances from local schools.
“I’m happy. I’m ready to get home. I’m ready to see my children, my grandchildren,” said Vernetta Holley of New Haven.
Long lines wrapped around the building on Monday morning at Bradley.
Bradley is working to make this a festive experience for passengers. They have decorations out, there will be comfort dogs and even some local carolers.
The majority will be traveling by car, including Colby Wolf, who we spoke to in Branford Sunday. She didn’t make it home last year due to the pandemic, so made sure to hit the roads early before traffic builds up ahead of Christmas.
“It feels great, especially because it’s probably been over a year since I’ve been home,” Wolf said. “It’s good to see everyone in the family, and yeah, I’m excited to be home.”
Be prepared if you’re driving this holiday, across the country gas prices are up to $1.25 from last year.