Thanksgiving travel expected to be heaviest since 2007

Travelers queue up at a security checkpoint with a mural in the background at Denver International Airport Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in Denver. Travelers are criss-crossing the country Wednesday, clogging airport terminals in a rush to reach their Thanksgiving Day destinations. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

CHICAGO (AP) — Elizabeth Thompson can’t wait to leave the big city behind and decompress over the Thanksgiving holiday at her grandmother’s house in rural south-central Indiana. But first she has to get there.

On Wednesday, Thompson, 23, missed her Amtrak train from Chicago to Galesburg, Illinois, where she’d planned to catch a ride with a family member the rest of the way to Edinburgh, Indiana.

“It’s just where we go to unplug and escape,” said Thompson, who had to decide whether to wait several hours for the next train or hop on a bus and get going.

Americans took to the roads, air and railways Wednesday for what is expected to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel period in almost a decade. Almost 49 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more between Wednesday and Sunday, the most since 2007, because of lower gas prices and an improving economy, according to AAA.

And while they look forward to eating turkey and watching football, many are ready to abandon another, more recent, American pastime: rehashing the rancorous election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“My mother specifically said, ‘We’re not going to talk about it,'” for her grandmother’s sake, Thompson said. Although nobody in her family supported President-elect Trump, “my grandmother is sick of hearing about it.”

Graphic illustrates the number of estimated travelers this Thanksgiving period according to AAA; 2c x 3 inches; 96.3 mm x 76 mm;
Graphic illustrates the number of estimated travelers this Thanksgiving period according to AAA. Click to Enlarge »

Sitting on their suitcases at a departure lounge at O’Hare International Airport, Sharyn Ioffe and her brother Saul Ioffe, both of Chicago, said there’s a good chance politics will intervene this Thanksgiving when they arrive home in New York.

“I’m pretty anxious about it,” said Sharyn Ioffe, 27, who supported Clinton, though others in her family sided with Trump. “I’m still very emotional about the election. I know you have to try and understand the other side. But I’m not there yet.”

Saul Ioffe, 20, said he is expecting some heated exchanges.

“I’m battening down the hatches,” he said.

The weather appeared to be cooperating for the most part, with no significant issues in the majority of the country, the National Weather Service said. There was drizzle and light fog in Chicago, a major airline hub, but delays were only averaging 15 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

The National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for parts of northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan as well as western and central Montana and central Idaho, New York and Pennsylvania for Wednesday night. A winter storm warning was in effect for parts of northwest Washington state, with heavy snow expected through Thanksgiving Day.

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AP reporters Michael Tarm in Chicago, Karen Matthews in New York, Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, and Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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