CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB)– According to AAA, nearly 55 million Americans are packing their bags and taking off during the holiday weekend.

“Most people are going to drive, but air travel is up 8 percent compared to last year,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations and corporate communications for AAA of WNY & CNY. “Make sure you give yourself enough time to get through security. If you take a carry-on bag, you’ll have that with you, and you won’t lose your luggage if your flight gets disrupted.”

Though most travelers are expected to travel by car, NFTA expects the Buffalo Niagara International Airport to be busy.

“Right now, we are actually at 85 percent of our pre-pandemic levels, so people are actually traveling. They’re trying to get home for the holidays, and we really pride ourselves on having good customer services and making sure people can get to their loved ones and having them connect safely.” said Kelly Khatib, communications manager of the NFTA. “Make sure you are coming to the airport two hours early, because you don’t want to be the person running, trying to catch your flight.”

They say that, typically, the busiest time to travel is in the morning on Wednesday, but they believe a lot of people are adjusting their travel plans to avoid those crowds. According to Carey, Sunday is the busiest day of the Thanksgiving travel week, as everyone returns home that day.

Some other tips they provided News 4 are:

  • Check the TSA website before packing to see what you can and cannot bring in your carry-on
  • Avoid wearing belts and tie-on shows to quicken up the security process.
  • Khatib also encourages travelers who want to bring the Buffalo-made staples, like Chiavettas sauce, to their loved ones who live out of town, that they buy those in the airport after going through security.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.