RDU officials expecting record number of travelers Thanksgiving week

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – AAA expects more than 28 million people to hit the skies for the week, up three percent from last year. At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, officials are also anticipating an increase in their travel volume compared to 2016.

Monday, RDU said half a million people, between people picking up travelers and those flying, are expected to be at the airport. Officials say 200,000 travelers will use the airport in one week.

It’s an all-time high, according to Kristie VanAuken, RDU’s vice president of communications and community affairs. VanAuken reports a project six percent increase for Thanksgiving week travel from last year.

The busiest day of travel will be Sunday after Thanksgiving with peak hours from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Wednesday, right before Thanksgiving, will also be a major travel day with peak hours anticipated from 4 a.m. until 8 a.m.

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When travelers arrive, they will find new amenities on the way, or already open. Starbucks in Concourse D is expected to open this week, while its neighbor Whiskey River, a restaurant chain in partnership with Dale Earnhardt Jr., is expected to open this Winter. Other options, like Popeyes, will also find a place at the airport.

CBS North Carolina spoke to RDU about safety, as well as these changes.

“Security is the number one priority here at RDU so a lot of what is going to happen is behind the scenes,” said VanAuken. “[We will have] extra law enforcement officers just to make sure that we can… provide the stress-free travel experience, the relaxing travel experience that customers really hope for and expect from RDU.”

One traveling family from Winston-Salem had safety on their minds as they made their way to Raleigh.

“Definitely more cautious nowadays then we would be in the past — just with everything going on,” said LaDaniel Neal.

Meanwhile, others like Marvin and Diane Castion, of Chapel Hill, say whatever happens happens. But they are excited to learn of new options for food and entertainment.

“Well, more convenient, the better. And we like Starbucks and we like restaurants so sure and we go to both ends so it’s nice to have something there as well. If you spend a lot of time at airports it’s always best to have some facilities,” they said.

Airport officials advise travelers take a look at the TSA checklist before leaving home at least two hours before your domestic flight.

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