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'Things might go a little bit different — Travelers say post-holiday rush posed few challenges

11-27-22 HOLIDAY TRAVEL.jpg
Posted at 10:21 PM, Nov 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-27 23:16:45-05

CLEVELAND — Packing bags, wrangling the family and navigating crowds at the airport are all part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend tradition for some travelers. Sunday was expected to be one of the busiest travel days of the year, as many travelers journeyed back home after the holiday.

AAA anticipated Thanksgiving holiday travel to reach nearly 98% of pre-pandemic levels. For its part, air travel was predicted to be up 7% from 2018.

RELATED: Thanksgiving travel expected to exceed 2021 volume

In 2019 and 2021, the Sunday after Thanksgiving shaped up to be the busiest travel day of both years. Passengers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport told News 5 they were anticipating long lines and large crowds. Some were pleasantly surprised.

“I got here like 2 hours early, thinking the line was going to be a lot longer. It’s not too bad right now, so that’s encouraging for me. I’ll get in, put my feet up and relax a little bit,” said Chris Kish, who was flying home to Florida after a holiday visit with family.

Cleveland Hopkins estimated 260,000 would touch down at the airport during the 10-day holiday travel period. Some who flew in before the holiday were also encouraged about a smooth journey into town.

“Travel to Cleveland was the easiest it’s ever been. I flew out of Newark, which is usually a disaster. And I was there in 25 minutes, my flight was on time and we landed early,” said Amanda Simms.

Her flight back to the East Coast was hampered by weather.

“It’s a weather delay. I know they’re having some trouble with wind out of Newark so they’re only allowing a certain number of planes to land every hour. But I just checked and the plane is on its way here. So thankfully, I should be able to get on it,” Simms said.

According to FlightAware, there were 2,000 flights canceled and more than 3,500 delayed across the country on Sunday afternoon. Simms explained she’s learned to adjust her plans on the fly during the busy holiday travel season.

“Expect things might go a little bit different than as scheduled,” Simms said. “Try to take things in stride, not get too worked up about it, just adjust expectations.”

The FAA said between Saturday, Nov. 19 and Sunday, Nov. 27, roughly 400,000 flights would take to the skies around the country.

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