Millions of Ohio travelers fly and hit the road for Thanksgiving

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – It seems millions more Americans will be traveling over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house this year.

AAA is predicting 48.7 million Americans, including two million Ohioans, are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. That’s the largest number of Ohio travelers in over a decade.

Travelers driving to get to their Thanksgiving destinations said the earlier you can hit the road the better.

“I think we left in time before the traffic starts to really get heavy,” said driver Lynn Cheryl Gadson.

But, it didn’t take long before traffic started piling up this afternoon around Columbus.

“This is an incredibly busy day,” said ODOT spokesperson Nancy Burton.

“Traffic was moving right along until we got 3 to 5 miles south of Grove City,” said driver Charles Mosgrave.

Another driver, Joe Spinks, is traveling with his wife from Iowa to New York.

“Once we got onto 71 here it’s really, really, really busy,” he said. “Lots of highway patrol, you’ve got to watch what you’re doing.”

Burton said they’re anticipating a high number of vehicles on their roadways through Sunday.

She warns drivers to pay attention, especially in construction zones where crews may be working behind the barriers.

“During the busy holiday travel, we don’t allow the contractor to take any additional lanes and impact traffic anymore than they already are,” she said. “Be mindful, reduce your speed if necessary, avoid those distractions and pay attention.”

She said ODOT is ready to treat roads if conditions get icy.

AAA said because of lower gas prices this year more people are opting to drive, crowding the highways.

Meanwhile, people flying for the holiday are experiencing shorter lines at John Glenn International Airport.

“It’s really not been crowded at all and I’m sort of surprised,” said flying traveler Cheryl Fitzgerald. “I’ve come from Baltimore and it’s been great.”

AAA estimates 3.7 million Americans will fly to their destination this holiday, including 144,000 Ohioans.

That’s despite a 21% increase on airfare rates, bringing the average cost for a round trip to $205.

“I was afraid that I might have a longer line but it was easy, very easy,” said Fitzgerald.

Vice president of Business Development & Communications for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority David Whitaker credits the new expansion at the John Glenn International Airport for the shorter lines and quicker processing through security.

“I was expecting it to be busier actually,” said flying traveler Sarah Canchola. “Being from Chicago this would be packed to the gills, but it’s not so that’s refreshing walking in here.”

Whitaker said it started picking up yesterday afternoon, but today will be the busiest travel day overall at the airport.

In Columbus, there were only few delays and cancellations, allowing people to get to their destinations on time.

Whitaker still suggests you arrive 90 minutes ahead of time to get to your gate on time. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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