Thanksgiving week expected to be busiest travel period since 2005, according to experts

MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - It’s one of the biggest travel weeks of the year, and millions of Americans are getting ready to hit the roads, rails and skies to visit their loved ones.

This Thanksgiving travel period is expected to be the busiest in more than a decade.

A record 54.3 million Americans will journey at least 50 miles this week, which officials say is an increase of nearly five percent, over last year. Most will travel by car.

Analysts believe low gas prices are to thank, along with a better economy.

Airports will also be more crowded than usual. Some travelers hoped an early flight would help them out.

“Nice and early, that would be the best time. I think, in the afternoon, it probably gets more hectic,” said Monica Smith, who is flying to Washington D.C.

Some travelers were a bit worried over the cold weather up north.

“I absolutely hate it,” said Carmen Antonetty, who is flying to Baltimore. “I asked my mother to grab me a coat, some hats, some socks, the gloves. I got my neck tied up. I can’t have my chest out. I’m absolutely not feeling it. I love Miami weather.”

Other travelers were more optimistic about the low temperatures.

“Sometimes it doesn’t feel like the holidays because we don’t have the cold weather,” another traveler said, “so we like to go up north a little bit.”

With the holiday travel period underway, airports are already seeing a major uptick in traffic, and the volume is only expected to go up.

“When I got here, like I saw this line, I was really worried I’d miss my flight,” said one traveler, Mofeed Zaitoun.

Officials at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport said more than 1.5 million people have flown from the airport since Friday.

Over at Miami International Airport, more than 125,000 passengers are expected to travel each day over the holiday week.

Aside from long lines and possible delays, the tens of millions of travelers that will be taking to the skies this Thanksgiving will also experience some new rights.

Lawmakers recently passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, including a ban on e-cigarettes on flights and prohibiting carriers from bumping passengers, once they’ve cleared the gate.

“If your bags are damaged or delayed, you are owed money by the airlines,” said Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “Up to $3,500.”

If you think opting for the roads will save you time, think again. According to officials, in some of the more congested cities, drivers could see trip times quadruple.

Experts suggest driving on the lightest travel days instead – Thanksgiving Day, Friday and Saturday. Expect to sit in traffic on Sunday.

Airport officials advise arriving two hours early for domestic flights and two-and-a-half hours before international flights.

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