“Grab your patience.” Here’s what Central Kentuckians can expect on their holiday trips

By | December 21, 2023

Yes, ’tis the season for holiday travelers.

For many Americans and Kentuckians, late December means busy airports and congested highways.

Nationwide, 115.2 million people are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home between Saturday and New Year’s Day, AAA predicted earlier this month.

According to AAA economic data, about 6.5% of travelers or more than 7.5 million people will fly — that’s up from the 7.33 million Americans before the pandemic who flew during the 2019 holidays.

What to expect at Blue Grass Airport

Travelers arriving at or departing from Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport are advised to “maintain their patience” this season, said Lauren Simmerman, the airport’s community relations manager.

While she didn’t have specific numbers on passenger volume this weekend, Simmerman said the airport will return to pre-pandemic levels through most of 2023 and that this should be no different during the holidays.

According to a Tuesday update from the TSA, the busiest travel days at U.S. airports are expected to be Thursday (December 21), then December 29 and January 1. On each of those days, the agency expects to screen for more than 2.5 days. million passengers – an increase of 6% compared to last year.

At the Lexington airport, the TSA security line is typically busiest in the morning, Simmerman said. The airport always suggests that passengers arrive at least 90 minutes before their flight.

Simmerman recommends using your airline’s mobile app to check in for your flight, as this can usually be done before arriving at the airport. The app would also show if a flight is delayed, so passengers can avoid ‘spending unnecessary time at the airport’.

A useful holiday tip: wrap your gifts at your final destination.

“There is a possibility that TSA could open those gifts as you go through checkpoints,” Simmerman said. “So it’s always a good idea to just pack those when you get to your final destination.”

The tsa.gov website also has a helpful “What can I bring?” section where passengers can look up regulations for items they are unsure whether to bring through a checkpoint.

Blue Grass Regional Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, Thursday, August 3, 2023.

Blue Grass Regional Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, Thursday, August 3, 2023.

What if I’m driving?

Nearly 90% of American travelers are likely to drive during the holidays, AAA estimates. In Central Kentucky, that will certainly mean more traffic, said Natasha Lacy, public information officer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s District 7 — which covers 12 Kentucky counties, including Fayette.

“The holidays always bring extra traffic as drivers not only shop, but also travel to meet friends and loved ones,” Lacy said. “And there are several tips you should take into account when you go on a long journey.”

Throughout the region, traffic will not be limited to major arterial roads such as highways. Lacy said any place that is frequently traveled to shop or dine will likely be busy during the holidays.

Gasoline Prices in Kentucky

Compared to a year ago, gas prices in the Commonwealth were down Wednesday.

According to AAA, which also tracks gas prices, the statewide average for regular unleaded gas on the same day in 2022 was $2.83 per gallon. On Wednesday, the state average was $2.73.

That average is also a quarter cheaper than a month ago and well below the state’s high water limit of $4.80 per gallon, recorded in June 2022.

Just like the weather, the price can also change quickly and vary per location. On Wednesday, the average per gallon in Fayette County was $2.71, while the average price in Perry County was more than $3.

More accidents around the holidays?

Road construction is generally suspended on the day of a holiday, Lacy said, but the day after or before should not be counted. Lacy recommended downloading the free Waze mobile app that tracks accidents and construction zones.

The state Transportation Cabinet also has a map of active delays and crashes at goky.ky.gov.

The busy season doesn’t necessarily mean more accidents will happen.

“There’s not really a specific time frame that you can say seasons cause more accidents unless there’s bad weather,” Lacy said.

No snow is forecast for the next few days, but the weather is always subject to change. Lacy recommended checking the forecast often, both for the times you plan to travel and for your destination and points in between.

Whenever you are driving, Lacy emphasizes that you should wear a seat belt and drive calmly and without distractions.

“That means don’t talk on the phone, obviously don’t text while you’re driving, pay attention to the roadway and try to be courteous while you’re driving,” Lacy said. “And that means not tailgating or being angry when someone cuts you off.”

Lacy also recommended packing a car kit with the following items:

  • Gloves

  • Blankets

  • Batteries

  • Ice scraper

  • Jumper cables

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