Fewer pre-Thanksgiving travelers at the Buffalo airport this year


CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Thanksgiving travel looks a little different this year; it’s down 75 percent at the Buffalo Niagara airport. 

Bright and early at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Buffalo-Niagara airport resembled what it would normally look like on the eve of Thanksgiving.

“This is the time of year that we all look forward to,” NFTA’s Helen Tederous says. “We have to just take precautions.”

After those early flights went out, travelers tapered off, almost to a standstill. 

“It’s nice to see some hustle and bustle, and people being safe after a few months of a very quiet airport,” AAA’s Elizabeth Carey said.

Between the pandemic and CDC officials urging people not to fly, AAA anticipates at least a 10 percent drop in travel nationwide. It’s the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008.

“However, we saw a COVID spike after that, and more restrictions in certain states so it will be more than 10 percent after that,” Carey says.

The Buffalo-Niagara airport has seen around a 75 percent decrease in travel.

“This year, things were different,” Carey says. “People took a wait-and-see approach.”

People also took advantage of the lowest airfare in three years. 

“We are heading to Florida,” Haily Davis, of Batavia, says. “This is his first time getting to see family. So, we’re excited.”

Those who chose to fly out said they felt safe doing so.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Davis says. “Everybody is wearing their masks and I’m sure they’ve got good cleaning procedures in place.”

Tederous says “They could come in and virtually not touch anything, but there are heavily-touched areas, elevators, and we are paying close attention to those areas.”

According to AAA, 95 percent of travelers are driving to their destinations this Thanksgiving.

Gabrielle Mediak is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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