ALBANY, Ga. -- Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Manager Yvette Aehle said Tuesday that passenger departures numbers were 'normal' for the holiday period while AAA forecasts a minimal increase nationally in Thanksgiving travel.
"We're doing OK, we're not completely full. But the numbers are running normally right now," Aehle said.
Aehle said departing flights for the next five days were running 67 percent full on Wednesday, 48 percent on Thanksgiving Day, 86 percent on Friday, 82 percent on Saturday and 86 percent on Sunday.
"Many people seem to be driving for the holiday," Aehle said. "Some have already left town early. Right now every thing is running fairly smoothly."
She advised those who are flying out of town over the next five days "to arrive early and be expecting the unexpected."
The AAA projects 43.6 million Americans will take a trip of 50 miles or more away from home between today and Sunday. This represents a 0.7 percent increase from the 43.3 million people who traveled last year. Auto travel remains the preferred mode of transportation this Thanksgiving with 39.1 million Americans traveling via automobile, or approximately 90 percent of all travelers.
"Although leisure travel is forecast to make just modest gains from last year, it's still a positive sign to see growth for the fourth year in a row," said Brent Hubele, Vice President, AAA Travel, "While the travel industry and those living in the Atlantic region are dealing with the devastating effect of Hurricane Sandy, our hearts and thoughts go out to those whose lives have been so deeply impacted.
"Holiday travel to those regions will most likely be more difficult than in previous years. AAA does not forecast any other major impacts to travel in and out of the lower Mid-Atlantic or Southeast regions."
Statewide, the AAA predicts 1,223,421 Georgians will travel over the holiday period -- a 0.6 percent increase over last year.
The AAA forecasts 953,041 Georgians will travel by auto, a 1.1 percent increase), 85,381 by air, a 1.2 percent decrease), and 24,933 by bus or train, a 13.7 percent increase.
Travelers in the Southeast are projected to journey an average of 525 miles round-trip.
And Thanksgiving travelers who are traveling to the Northeast, be prepared. If you have yet to rent a car in the Northeast you are out of luck: Superstorm Sandy has created a shortage.
The storm has damaged thousands of cars -- including those owned by rental companies. The loss of vehicles has been compounded by rising demand. Thanksgiving and Christmas are normally busy rental periods. And lingering mass transit problems caused by Sandy have added to demand.
Existing reservations are mostly being honored, but people who still want to book for Thanksgiving are finding almost no cars left.