Holiday weekend travel rush gets underway

ByChristie Ileto WPVI logo
Thursday, November 26, 2015
VIDEO: Thanksgiving travel highs, lows
Locals trying to get home for the holidays experienced travel highs and lows the day before Thanksgiving.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Locals trying to get home for the holidays experienced travel highs and lows the day before Thanksgiving.

Inside the Philadelphia International Airport and Amtrak's 30th Street Station, there was an increased security presence on Wednesday.

At the airport, K-9 units patrolled the grounds amid a travel alert sent out Monday by the U.S. State Department.

Across the country, 3.6 million people are expected to fly this week. Amtrak says it expects Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday to be the busiest travel days of this holiday week, with about 143,000 commuters expected.

"It was good. There were a lot more cops walking around. You can tell there is definitely a police presence," said traveler Rick Chruch.

Sunny weather had most flights on time, and traffic on the roadways was moving this afternoon, but AAA expects a busy holiday season.

"Not too bad. They flowing fine for me, you know, I came all the way from Trenton, you know, on my way back now so wasn't too bad," said Wayne Mitchell of Darby, Pa.

"This year, this Thanksgiving, we're expected to see the highest travel volume since 2007," said AAA's Jana Tidwell. "That's indicative of the economy and lower gas prices."

Wednesday night proved tougher for travelers trying to get home for the holidays.

Chioma Sabudu spent almost three-and-a-half hours in gridlock traffic from New Jersey to Philadelphia International Airport.

"I was extremely scared, and now I wanna run to get to this security line," said Sabudu.

Officials say almost 9 out of 10 Pennsylvanians will drive 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving.

"We didn't hit any traffic until as soon we crossed into the boarder in Pennsylvania," said Kristi Falco of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Earlier in the day, a freight train derailed near Harrisburg, slowing train service from Pittsburgh to New York. Delays were roughly an hour and a bus bridge was put in place to move passengers between trains.

Amtrak says this is its busiest travel period. On a typical Wednesday, officials say they would see about 83,000 people, but at 30th Street Station they seen about 141,000 customers.

Regardless of interruptions, transportation officials had this to say: "AAA is advising whether you're going by car or by plane, to pack your patience, and to allow plenty of extra time," said Tidwell. "It's going to be crowded out there today."

One reminder if you're headed to Philadelphia International Airport: Even if you're pre-approved by the TSA, you will be subject to the same rules as everyone else.