La Crosse Regional Airport expecting Thanksgiving travel to be busiest since pre-COVID

Tens of millions of Americans will be traveling for Thanksgiving, despite warnings from health leaders

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Tens of millions of Americans will be traveling for Thanksgiving, despite warnings from health leaders.

Not as many people are taking flights out of La Crosse these days, but it appears Thanksgiving is flipping the script.

“It’s probably going to be the busiest time that we’ve seen in the last nine months,” La Crosse Regional Airport deputy director Doug Brown said.

Brown says most passengers have already taken flight.

“Last weekend, I think we started seeing the majority of the uptick,” Brown said. “People look at it as more of a week-long or a multi-day vacation or holiday.”

But much fewer people are traveling by air for turkey day this year.

“About a 10 percent reduction in automobile travel, and about a 50 percent reduction in air travel,” AAA director of public affairs Nick Jarmusz said.

Jarmusz says people’s concerns with COVID and their finances are preventing them from taking a plane.

“Unless you’re talking about an oversees flight, you know, any trip that can be made my airplane, can be made by car,” Jarmusz said.

Health experts are not recommending folks travel, but Jarmusz says about 50 million will be traveling by car or plane.

“Maybe this is the only time of the year that they are able to work it into their schedule to make that trip home,” Jarmusz said. “And so, a lot of folks still want to do that.”

In order to accommodate all travelers, Brown says the airport is doubling down on safety guidelines.

“We feel confident with the people coming through that we’ve seen, that we’re prepared for the influx that everyone is seeing for the holiday travel,” Brown said.

Brown says flights for Thanksgiving this year dropped about 30 percent compared to last year.

Jarmusz says about 926-thousand people in Wisconsin will be driving … while 48-thousand will travel by plane.

AAA expects at least a 10 percent drop in travel altogether.

Pic Thanksgiving Covid Travel