SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Wednesday is known to be one of the busiest travel days of the year.
AAA said nearly 2.9 Floridians are traveling for Thanksgiving, the highest number since 2005.
On the Suncoast, there are an estimated 10,000 people traveling at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Wednesday alone. In addition to that, staff said there will be another 8,000 at this airport on Thursday.
“Just arrive early and be prepared to deal with the crowds," said Mark Stuckey, senior vice president of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.
The crowds filled every spot in the long-term parking lot at SRQ Airport Wednesday morning, forcing staff to open an overflow lot.
“We’re not concerned about parking, but we want people to know when they get here to be prepared to go to the overflow location," said Stuckey.
Staff said they’ve seen a record breaking 70 percent increase in traffic for the month of November. Passengers choosing to fly to one of the 39 destinations the SRQ airport now services.
Staff say so far, so good.
“We have not had any cancellations today," Stuckey explained. "We’ve had a few delays, slight delays, but mostly everything is running on time.”
Passenger Steven Nicola said he’s hoping the same is true for his flight, too.
“I’m assuming it would be pretty busy," Nicola said. "But I mean, I’m flying into Atlanta so that would, I’m assuming that’s where everything will get real busy. I’m just hoping I don’t get delayed you know.”
“We recommend that all customers, passengers arrive early," said Stuckey. "If you’re picking up a passenger, to use our cell phone lot. That makes it easier at the curb so you can pick them up quickly. If you’re traveling with presents, make sure you leave them unwrapped if you’re going through the check point or you check them in your luggage.”
AAA said the drivers are likely to face delays either way.
“We’re expecting to see over 4.5 million people on the roads tomorrow nationwide," said Sue Fitzgerald, travel agent at AAA. "Of that, 2.6 million are going to be Floridians so definitely, be careful when you’re out there driving because there’s going to be a lot of people out on the road.”
The good news is gas prices are lower in Florida than other places in the country.
“We’re looking at $2.59 being the average gas price in the nation," Fritzgerald said. "Florida is like $2.36 and even in this area, you can find some as low as $2.14 cents or $2.20.”
Whether travelers are driving or flying, staff recommend everyone gives themselves plenty of extra time because of the crowds.
Anyone flying out of SRQ Airport is urged to their airlines for potential delays, get the airport at least an hour and a half early and know ahead of time what can and can’t be brought on the plane.