Busy Christmas Travel; Crush Expected Jan. 4
Undated (AP) _ Airports and train stations were filled with holiday travelers on Christmas Eve, but the industry was bracing for an even bigger crush of passengers - people trying to get home on the Sunday after New Year’s.
Tourism in general has seen something of a recovery in recent weeks and surveys anticipate this year’s holiday travel season will come close to being as busy as 1989, before the recession set in.
From the airport in Lincoln, Neb., to the bus station in Louisville, Ky., to a country inn in Connecticut, officials reported increases in traffic and reservations compared to last year.
″I don’t know what it is, but people seem more upbeat this year,″ said Tony Daou, manager of Boulder’s Inn in New Preston, Conn. Weekend reservations were booked earlier this year than last and that many guests are staying longer, he said.
At Amtrak, preliminary figures show holiday traffic might surpass its estimate of a 2 percent increase, perhaps reaching 3 or 4 percent over last year, said spokeswoman Pat Kelly.
With Christmas and New Year’s falling on Fridays this year, travelers spread their departures out during the week, Kelly said. But bookings indicate many want to return home on Sunday, Jan. 3, to return to work the next day, she said.
Those who don’t have reserved seats should arrive at the train station early to improve their chances of getting aboard, she said.
Airport, bus and train traffic was brisk Wednesday, but traffic dropped off as usual on Christmas Eve. For all the people anxious to get where they’re going, many reported good spirits.
″Some of them are kind of antsy about seeing a relative,″ Greyhound driver Bill Liddle said before leaving Albany, Ga. for Atlanta. ″I have a lot more questions about time - ‘What time are we going to get in?’ Most of them have relatives waiting for them or they are going to surprise someone.″
At Lincoln Municipal Airport in Nebraska, traffic was up about 13 percent last month and Wednesday was about as busy as the Sunday after Thanksgiving, traditionally the busiest day of the year there, said airport director Wayne Andersen.
But at Los Angeles International Airport, traffic was only barely up from last year, said spokeswoman Cora Fossett. At the current rate it appeared the airport would fall short of its estimate of 1.8 million travelers from Dec. 19 to Jan. 4, she said.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is expecting a 5 to 7 percent increase in passengers this weekend and next at John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark International Airport.
The American Automobile Association estimates 5 percent more people will be traveling during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays compared to last year and 2 percent behind 1989.