Wilmington International Airport expecting big Thanksgiving travel numbers

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Pack your patience! The holiday travel season is upon us, with AAA estimating 53.4 million people will spend Thanksgiving away from home.

Projections for 2021 are close to 2019 pre-pandemic levels, with 4.2 million expected to travel by plane, with many taking off from and landing in the Cape Fear.

ILM Deputy Director Gary Broughton says as of Tuesday morning there were about 10,000 departures scheduled for this week. He says historically, the total number of departures typically increases by 10 or 11 percent by the end of the week.

He expects the number could be close to or exceed the 2019 total of around 12,000.

Broughton says the airport is not currently experiencing any staffing issues, with TSA operations running smoothly.

WWAY spoke with several visitors at ILM on Tuesday who described their travel experiences.

“It was not as bad as I thought,” said Ryan Beasley from Pompano Beach, Florida. “Getting through security there was a breeze, it was actually about 10-15 minutes getting through security.”

“It wasn’t too busy, I would say it was like a medium busy day up in La Guardia,” said Victoria Young from Brooklyn. “And then coming in here it’s been really relaxed.”

“It was definitely busy at La Guardia,” said Caleb Anderson from New York. “The line for security was pretty long.”

Airlines are still recommending you arrive two hours early, and masks are still required in airports and on commercial flights.

Many travelers say they’re looking forward to being with family after missing out in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“It’s an opportunity to see a lot of family members coming from different areas that come back to Wilmington,” said DeAndre DeVane, who is from Wilmington but now lives in New York. “My original family, we’ve lived in the same house since 1977 so it’s great to come home.”

“Knowing that I get some good home cooked food and spend time with family and just, you know be back for Thanksgiving, there’s nothing better man,” Beasley said.

“I hope everyone has a great holiday,” Young said.

View the current status of departures and arrivals at ILM here.

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