Long lines were already stretching across Raleigh-Durham International at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning as Thanksgiving travelers waited to get through security.
The day before Thanksgiving is known as one of the busiest travel days of the entire year, although planners expect Sunday to be the busiest single day at RDU, with around 44,000 people projected to travel through the airport.
Planners say air travel as a whole has seen growth, increasing more than 10% since last year, almost to pre-pandemic levels.
Check the status of your flight with the WRAL Flight Tracker before you leave, and arrive at the airport two hours early.
Even though the airport will be crowded, most people are driving for Thanksgiving — 90% of travelers or 48.3 million Americans, according to Triple AAA, which is an increase of 8.4% from 2020.
If you plan to drive on Wednesday, experts recommend leaving for your destination before noon or after 8 p.m.
With more cars on the road comes the risk for more car crashes, many of which are caused by speeding. The Durham Police Department, along with other local law enforcement, will have additional patrol cars on the road to help prevent accidents.
One officer told WRAL News it’s one thing to write tickets, but it’s another to see serious crashes and notify families about traffic fatalities.
Kristen Kozar, an investigator on the Durham Police Department’s traffic and collision team, told WRAL News about a Christmas Eve fatality last year she’ll always remember and why she’s passionate about her work.
“It’s very difficult, especially going to give the death notification,” she said. “It’s always hard to tell a loved one that their loved one has been killed in a motor vehicle collision. But even more so on the holidays, when they’re expecting to see that person.”
Durham police officers will be looking for “careless and reckless driving, aggressive driving, following too closely and seatbelt violations.”
“We just really want to make sure people are safe out there,” Kozar said. “We’re not stopping people for going one or two miles over the speed limit. These are egregious speeds. We’ve seen people traveling over 100 mph.”