Louisville flights: Tips from Muhammad Ali International Airport
Natalie Chaudoin, Public Relations Director with the Muhammad Ali International Airport has some travel tips for those flying two and from Louisville over the busy holiday season.
Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal
More than 3 million people in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi are planning to travel for Thanksgiving this week and could be the busiest travel year since before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data from AAA.
Thousand of people are expected to fill the nation’s highways this year, and based on capacity, the number of flyers taking to the skies are expected to surpass past record-breaking years, Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport spokesperson Natalie Chaudoin during a news conference Tuesday.
Airport officials predict more than 100,000 arrivals and departures filtering through the hub in 2023. Meanwhile, thousands more are expected to hit the road this year, according to estimates from AAA.
“A lot of it has to do with pandemic because there was such pent up demand for two or three years we weren’t allowed to travel” AAA spokesperson Lynda Lambert said. “And now people have that money set aside for vacations and to spend time with with family and friends. That’s a priority for a lot of Americans. So they’ll cut back in other areas, even when prices might be a little higher for flights or for gasoline, although that’s not the case this year.”
Car traffic expected to return to pre-COVID levels in 2023
AAA’s Thanksgiving forecast projects 2023 will be the third-busiest year nationwide for car travel since 2000. With 49.1 million Americans expected to go on a road trip this Thanksgiving, vehicle traffic could reach pre-pandemic levels.
Lambert said there has been “a lot of pent-up demand” for travel this year because there are not any COVID-19 health guidelines to follow.
Car travel is expected to increase 10% compared to last year, Lambert told The Courier Journal. More than 90% of all Thanksgiving travelers in AAA’s East Central Region, which includes Kentucky, get to their destination exclusively by car, data show.
For those looking to hit the road this year, highways are expected be busiest on Wednesday from 2-6 p.m, Lambert said.
“So you want to get up and get out early, or later in the evening if possible,” Lambert said Monday. “Especially if you’re driving through a metropolitan area of any kind, they’re super congested at rush hour.”
Before heading out for the holiday, Lambert said drivers should also make sure their vehicle can run smoothly from point A to B.
“We’re projecting that we will rescue more than 360,000 Americans on the roadside this Thanksgiving,” Lambert said. “Our top three calls for roadside assistance are always for dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires.”
More: Gas prices in Louisville, Kentucky continue to drop ahead of Thanksgiving travel
SDF expected to break records this year
Chaudoin told The Courier Journal that travel levels at Louisville’s airport during Thanksgiving broke records in 2022 and is expected to be 28% higher this year.
She said even though officials expect many flights to be filled to capacity, she is “confident” people could still find a last minute route to travel.
Chaudoin said people should arrive at least two and a half hours early, especially those that fly in the early morning hours since they are the busiest.
She also recommended people coordinate their parking arrangements ahead of time because the lots could get full, but also said the airport is offering $5 per day parking special for the Express Shuttle lot if people register in advance.
Chaudoin said the construction in the baggage claim area was finished just in time for the holiday since it had been closed and operating at half capacity since the week after the Kentucky Derby.
More: What the weather forecast is bringing Louisville for Thanksgiving Day
Officials urge drivers to limit distractions, drive sober
The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety is pushing its “Buckle Up and Put the Phone Down” campaign this Thanksgiving. On average, over 50,000 crashes occur every year in Kentucky because of distracted driving, according to data from the state highway safety office.
“The holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year, so we’re asking Kentuckians to buckle up and put the phone down in an effort to protect themselves and other families traveling on the road,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement earlier in November.
In a statement, LMPD spokesperson Aaron Ellis said local and state police will be patrolling roadways this week.