Arkansas predicts lighter holiday travel season

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – With Thanksgiving mere days away, travelers are preparing to head home for the holidays. But this holiday travel season is unlike any we’ve seen before, with COVID-19 precautions in place and doctors recommending Arkansans keep the festive gatherings small.

Both airports and state roads are taking extra precautions to keep visitors safe, even if they don’t expect the rush seen in years prior.

The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport has seen a dip in travelers since the pandemic began, with as much as 55% fewer fliers than in 2019. That trend stretches to Thanksgiving travel.

According to airport spokesman Shane Carter, an average of 1,600 passengers per day traveled through the airport this past Saturday and Sunday, down from the normal holiday rush of 4,500 to 5,000 travelers.

While the airport did see a slight increase in travelers this holiday week than in months prior, it’s still a mere percentage of past numbers.

Regardless, the airport is taking precautions. Carter explains that gate areas are sanitized after every departing flight, and masks are required from the moment passengers enter the airport.

In addition, Carter recommends arriving early to account for security and check in, and to make any changes to your boarding ticket in advanced.

The same cannot be said for road travel. According to Dave Parker with the Arkansas Department of Transportation, although it makes sense for fewer people to hit the road this year, it’s hard to predict how much of a dip in road traffic Arkansas will see with fewer people flying.

ARDOT is preparing for the holiday rush as usual, with some extra precautions – all rest areas and welcome centers will receive deep cleanings in addition to the usual disinfecting to account for an increase in visitors.

Parker says all ARDOT construction projects will also suspend work on Thursday and Friday to help keep travelers safe. He recommends checking the ARDOT road conditions website HERE before heading home to make sure your route is good to go.

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