November 24, 2010
Millions take to the roads and skies this week as predictions point to an increase in holiday travel this year.
Experts say economic improvement is boosting the number of people celebrating away from home on this, the busiest travel holiday of the year.
AAA predicts the number of people traveling over Thanksgiving weekend will increase by more than 11% over last year.
Air travel is also expected to increase, but many passengers say Wednesday's crowds weren't anything unexpected.
"It's all that hype. Everything building up and you want to meet up with your family and your friends. So it's worth it," said Wichita traveler Johnny Ware.
Travelers leaving and arriving at Mid-Continent Airport didn't report any overwhelming crowds or major problems Wednesday.
"I mean being in Kansas, it's not as populated and crazy as most places, so that's kind of nice," said Wichita traveler Cameron Banning.
"We had a really good experience. We didn't have to do any scans, no pat-downs, everything was really smooth sailing," said Stephanie Kethcart, who was arriving from Phoenix.
The airport reports getting nearly a thousand people through security before 7:00 Wednesday morning without a recorded wait time longer than six minutes. Mid-Continent also dodged any cancellations and long delays Wednesday.
"Today has been kind of uneventful from that aspect, and that's always a good thing," said Kansas Federal Security Director Keith Osborn.
But on the road it wasn't quite as smooth, as increased traffic contributed to three minor injury accidents within one hour on west Kellogg Wednesday night. Two of those crashes shut down a portion of the roadway.
"It's just a simple case of a lot of traffic on the road right now during the holiday season," said Wichita Police Sgt. Phil Smith.
That's why Highway Patrol is increasing enforcement this entire week. Above all, troopers will be checking for impaired drivers and making sure people are buckling up.
"With having more officers on the road obviously we're going to hopefully help reduce those number of crashes," said Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Gary Warner.
Although driving is set to be the most popular way to travel this week, more people than last year are opting to fly.
"It's too long of a drive.. about a two-and-a-half day drive otherwise," said Ketchcart.
Although the volume of Thanksgiving travelers is expected to increase this year, the numbers are still falling about 30% short of where they were in 2005.
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