Chicago's O'Hare, Midway, roads expected to be busy ahead of Thanksgiving 2021

Chicago traffic will likely be heavy as 53 million expected to travel across the board, AAA says

Diane Pathieu Image
Monday, November 22, 2021
Chicago airports, roads to be busy ahead of Thanksgiving holiday
53 million people plan to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday across the board, AAA said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Travelers have already started packing the roads and airports, heading away to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving and looking like they did before the COVID pandemic.

Those traveling should expect a very busy week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

O'Hare expects over 1.2 million passengers between Tuesday and next Monday.

Over at Midway, the number is approximately 288,000.

"We are two and a half times the numbers that we saw last year, so it is much busier, with a lot of folks that haven't flown in a long time," Chicago aviation spokeswoman Christine Carrino said.

This year marks the highest single-year travel increase during Thanksgiving since 2005, bringing the U.S. close to pre-pandemic numbers.

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"You leave early enough; that's the problem. People don't leave early enough," traveler Lorraine Pearson said. "My flight is not until 10:40 a.m., but you see I'm here, and I'm ready for whatever might happen."

Across the country, TSA is preparing for about 20 million passengers traveling by air this week, through Sunday

"Make sure that you're organized and prepared for it to be more busy than normal, for sure," traveler Collin Wanek said.

Driving somewhere for Thanksgiving? Prepare to pay at the pump.

And it's not just airports; AAA predicts over 53 million people plan to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday across the board.

Despite extremely high gas prices, 90% of people traveling plan to travel by car.

Experts are warning people to be prepared for roads and airports to be more crowded.

This is a celebratory trip Meenakshi Sharma has been waiting for. She and her friend are traveling via planes, trains and automobiles to get to California and celebrate a 50th birthday.

"I thought the airports are not as busy, and I came very well prepared. But then it's nice and crowded, which I am happy about. I like crowds; I like to see people," Sharma said.