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AAA forecasts 109 million travelers this holiday season, just shy of pre-pandemic numbers

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Posted at 6:22 PM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 18:22:04-05

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — At the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, holiday travel is in full swing, and travelers say it’s good to be back.

“It’s been pretty seamless,” traveler Hanna Turley said. “To be here now to where we were this past year, in just grateful to be able to get on a plane and see my family.”

Travelers who skipped flying and seeing family last year say this year feels safer.

“People are actually following the mask mandate,” Turley said. “Staying away from each other.”

According to AAA 109 million Americans are expected to travel for the holidays this year, compared to 2020 only 81 million people traveled for the holidays and in 2019, 119 million.

“It’s festive, its spirited, we’re back,” Helen Tederous from the NFTA said. 

Tederous says last year, the airport operated at 10% capacity

“Last year we went to the airport and there were very few people there,” Tederous said. “The mood was very solemn.”

Tederous says with travel returning to high numbers this year, it’s important to have a plan.

“Just be patient and get to the airport as early as possible,” Tederous said.

“We took the safe approach and got here a bit earlier just in case there were border issues,” traveler Peter Mercanti said. “But everything went absolutely perfect, no issues.”

Flyers say they’re in the holiday spirit and nothing will get them down.

“If you want to travel, we got to go through all the new little rules and regulations that are put in place,” Mercanti said. “But it’s okay.”

“I hope that people have patience for each other and take a second to thank everyone who is working here,” Turley said.

And Tederous says there are some things to keep in mind like remembering a mask and sanitizing or washing your hands as often as possible.