Travelers head out of town for Thanksgiving

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CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Anyone flying out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport early Wednesday morning had to contend with crowds of fellow-travelers.

Wednesday is generally the busiest day of the Thanksgiving travel period, and ahead of the first cluster of flights out of BNIA, there was a long line of people waiting to get through security and back to their gates.

By 5 a.m. the line was snaking through the departures area, past some of the check-in desks. But, the line moved quickly, and by 5:30 a.m. travelers were back to enjoying the normal, short TSA lines we’ve gotten used to seeing at BNIA.

All travelers are advised to give themselves extra time to get back to their departure gates because of the crowds they could encounter.

AAA expects 48.7 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving this week – about a million more than last year.

The 2 percent increase in travelers this year marks the eighth consecutive year of growth in travel numbers for the the Thanksgiving holiday.

Elizabeth Carey, Public Affairs Manager for AAA of Western and Central New York, says that’s a sign of the economic times. “A lot of people are working. A lot of people are able to spend a little bit more money,” she explained. “Gas prices have been pretty low for the most part. That should really fuel a lot of travel this holiday season.”

The vast majority of people traveling for Thanksgiving are expected to do so by car, so everyone should plan ahead for congested roads. “You want to make sure you get to your destination safely,” Carey said. “You want to make sure you have something to be thankful for, you don’t have any regrets. So we remind everyone to put the cell phones down, focus on driving, make sure you get to your destination and can have a happy Thanksgiving.”

If you’re traveling with children for Thanksgiving, it will pay to take a few extra steps to prepare, especially if you’re flying for the holiday.

Carey suggests bringing snacks to the airport, as long as they comply with the TSA’s rules for bringing liquids through security. And, she says, you should bring things to keep your little ones busy on the plane.

“It’s always a good idea to make sure the kids are occupied. You know you always want to make it as easy as you possibly can on the other people on the plane, as well,” she said. “Being a mom myself, I now some tricks do the kids are to bring an iPod or DVD player or something that they can be looking at, and make sure they have a drink on board, because that really helps with the ear pressure when they come up in the air.”

Thanksgiving travelers have, so far, encountered few issues at Buffalo Niagara International as they head out of town for the holiday, although there were a few delays. Most of those problems are likely a lingering effect from the delays and cancellations that airport officials warned about Tuesday night, citing air traffic issues.

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