Travelers say regional airports were “ghost towns” Thanksgiving weekend

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Sunday after Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest travel days of the year but walking around Columbia Metropolitan Airport travelers said the terminal was nearly empty.

“It’s really weird… Airports are kind of like ghost towns now,” University of South Carolina student Meredith Berglund said after flying into Columbia.

“It’s been kind of eerie,” Benjamin Strauss said as he was getting ready to depart.

According to a spokesperson for CAE, travel for the first week of November was 62% less than the same time last year. But she pointed out it’s not just Columbia, other regional airports in the area are seeing similar trends.

On the roads, South Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper David Jones said this year highways were also slightly less crowded than before.

“It seems like the traffic today is a little less than what I’ve seen in years past,” Jones said. “But there is still an increase in traffic,” Jones explained comparing what he saw Sunday to previous weeks.

However, the day before Thanksgiving Jones said he saw just as many cars on the roads as he is used to seeing.

“We know people are traveling. I talked to dozens and dozens of people Wednesday who were coming from North Carolina heading to Alabama or people coming from neighboring states to South Carolina to celebrate Thanksgiving,” he said.

Jones said it’s possible some South Carolinians who would typically fly for the holiday decided to drive this year, which would match national trends. AAA predicted overall travel for the Thanksgiving holiday would fall 10% this year but traveling by car would only decrease by about 4.3%.

Jones said while there is a chance traffic has decreased, his team is still on high alert.

“Our focus doesn’t change…we are still seeing the same issues I’ve seen in the past 15 years of being a trooper,” he said.

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