HARRISBURG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, DAUPHIN COUNTY—More than two million people are expected to take to the air this Thanksgiving weekend, but that number is down nearly 7 percent from last year, according to AAA. The rough economy is to blame, experts say. That's why the car is king this holiday season.
Hugh Gardner and his family are making their Thanksgiving trip from Arlington, Va. to Binghmaton, N.Y. At a rest stop on Interstate 81 in Dauphin County, Gardner said the hard part is behind him.
"The worst is getting through Dillsburg and Harrisburg," he said. "Once you're through those, it's not bad. I hope."
Gardner could be in for a surprise. AAA reports 86 percent of holiday travelers are going by car this year. That's up 8 percent from 2008.
"Know that it's going to be crowded," advised Cindy Brough of AAA Central Penn. "Allow additional time. Pack your patience and just make life easier and keep a smile on your face."
AAA reports 8 percent of us will travel by bus or train over the holiday weekend. Michele LaChance will ride Amtrak for 13 hours on her trip from Middletown to Maine.
"It's really easy," LaChance said. "A lot more comfortable than an airplane, and a lot more room to sit and move around. The stations are really well-kept and the people are nice that work the trains. I really enjoy it."
Terry and Trudy Fix are winging their way from the Harrisburg International Airport to see their son in Baton Rouge, La.
"We procrastinated and didn't get tickets," Terry Fix said. "She went searching online and we go these tickets and they're a lot cheaper."
Harrisburg International Airport officials estimate 21,000 flyers will pass through its terminal over the next five days.
"We have about 6 percent less seats available this year compared to last year," HIA spokesman Scott Miller said. "However, fares are down this year compared to last year, and the planes are much fuller."
Though holiday travel is up nationwide, it is actually down in Pennsylvania. AAA reports six percent fewer people are traveling for Thanksgiving this year in the Keystone State. The travel agency blames the poor economy and layoffs for the low numbers.