Thanksgiving travel expected to rebound in La Crosse area

AAA says more than 53 million people are expected to travel for Thanksgiving; La Crosse airport director expects most flights will be full

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The traveling industry is set to rebound in a big way for this upcoming Thanksgiving, both by car and by airplane.

More people in the La Crosse area — and statewide — are planning to travel this year.

More than 53 million people are expected to travel around Thanksgiving, which is an increase of 13 percent compared with 2020, according to the American Automobile Association.

It is the largest single-year travel uptick since 2005.

“We’re measuring up to be quite a bit busier this year,” La Crosse Regional Airport director Ian Turner said.

There still aren’t as many flights available as before the pandemic, Turner said.

“The pilot situation is not improved,” he said. “If anything, it’s gotten a little bit worse.”

But that doesn’t mean passengers are staying home.

In fact, Turner expects most — if not all — flights will be full.

“Don’t anticipate to get here right before your flight,” Turner said. Make sure you’re here 90 minutes to two hours before” the flight.

P Thanksgiving Travel Rebound

Car travel still rules the road for Thanksgiving.

AAA says 90 percent of travelers will drive to their holiday destinations.

Just under a million people in Wisconsin will drive, despite gas prices being the highest in nearly a decade, said AAA public affairs director Nick Jarmusz.

“We’re still not expecting that to be a deterrent to folks who want to get on the road and go and visit their families,” Jarmusz said.

And if you’re getting behind the wheel, be patient.

Deaths on the road rose last year because of people traveling at high speeds, Jarmusz said.

“Just remember that everyone’s goal is to make it to and from their holiday celebration,” he said.

With 53 million travelers on the road and in the air, it’s clear many of us are becoming more comfortable leaving home again.

“(There’s) a little bit of anxiousness to get out and see those people we haven’t seen in quite some time,” Turner said.

Thanksgiving travel this year will be near pre-pandemic levels, especially by airplane, according to AAA. Airplane travel is expected to increase by 80 percent compared with 2020.

A reminder: If you are traveling by plane, federal law requires you wear a mask in the airport and during your flight.

Recent news headlines from News 8 Now

Unvaccinated people at higher risk of hospitalization and death, new Wisconsin DHS data show

Pfizer agrees to let other companies make its COVID-19 pill

La Crosse River Marsh restoration effort reaching one year milestone

US population center moves 11.8 miles; still in Missouri