MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A bustling Miami International Airport Monday morning marked the start of the holiday travel rush as families made their way to reunite for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Amid the excitement for festive gatherings, travelers remain vigilant for potential disruptions.

“The plane was broken. I had to stay in a hotel overnight, me and my wife. Today’s her birthday a matter of fact,” said one traveler. “But we gotta catch this plane.”

The number of people traveling 50 miles or more from home for Thanksgiving is expected to reach 55.4 million this week, a slight increase over last year, according to AAA projections.

“We’re projecting this to be the third highest Thanksgiving forecast that we’ve looked at, and we’ve been looking at holiday travel since 2000,” said AAA spokesperson Aixa Diaz.

The majority of travelers, nearly 89%, are opting for road trips, taking advantage of a bit of relief at the pump.

GasBuddy.com reports the national average for a gallon as just under $3.28, marking a significant drop of 39.5 cents from the previous year.

About 4.7 million people are expected to fly during the Thanksgiving travel period, according to AAA. That’s an increase of 6.6% compared to 2022 and the highest number since 2005.

“It’s busier than I expected so as long as we get there safe, it’s fine,” said a traveler named Mike.

Lines moved a bit fast but what would slow them down were travelers who brought items that we’re not allowed, like a loaded gun.

On Monday, TSA confiscated a Smith and Wesson gun, along with 23 rounds of ammo.

Traffic is anticipated to peak on Wednesday, with close to 50,000 flights scheduled.

“So far it’s typical Miami it took us about an hour to get here from home and thank god we found some good parking in the parking garage and everything else seems to be flowing pretty good, so we’re just excited to sit down on the plane and get to our destination,” said a traveler named Jaccardi.

Despite efforts to streamline security processes, the TSA is aware of any and all potential delays.

“We will do our best to screen standard passengers in under 30 minutes and passengers enrolled in TSA pre-check in under 10 minutes,” said TSA Federal Security Director Robert Spinden. “There might be occasions where wait times may be longer.”

Regardless of the mode of travel, millions will have to deal with adverse weather conditions in the coming days.

“If your flight gets canceled or significantly delayed for any reason, I want the traveling public to know that you are entitled to a full cash refund if you choose to take that refund rather than rebook,” said Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is expected to be the busiest with an estimated 2.9 million passengers taking to the skies.

One United Airlines representative recommened travelers to download their app to stay up to date with their flight statuses.

“So let’s say there is a delay, there is a cancellation. One thing we have at United is we’re able to communicate with you automatically so we’ll be able to rebook your flight and you can look in the app to see if that option works for you,” said Katie Carrier from United Airlines.

AAA recommends Wednesday morning and Sunday morning as the optimal times for travel.

MIA just opened a new economy park and ride lot at 1350 NW 45th Avenue. 

There are 460 spaces with a shuttle service to the terminal every 15 minutes for just $12 a day, about half the price of the Dolphin and Flamingo garages. 

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