MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Thanksgiving week is notoriously one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, but officials said it is nothing Myrtle Beach International Airport cannot handle.
A study from AAA found that Thanksgiving traveler numbers this year are almost back to pre-pandemic levels with 54.6 million people traveling 50 miles or more this week. More than 4.5 million of those people are traveling by air.
Airport spokesman Ryan Betcher said this year’s numbers should be just about the same as last year, but what the airport will see this week will be nothing compared with what the airport sees in the summer.
“Thanksgiving and holiday travel, in general, is typically not as busy as what we see during the summer,” Betcher said. “Summers are always going to be the busiest time of year for Myrtle Beach. Even those peak days during the summer, we may see two, three times as many passengers going through on a daily basis than what we see for a Thanksgiving holiday travel period.”
Nonetheless, it is still a busy weekend. But while Myrtle Beach International is used to catering to a rush of tourists, this week will be a different group of travelers.
“It’s gonna be a demographic shift than what we have during the summer,” Betcher said. “So really, it’s more locals flying in and out, not as many tourists.”
Airport parking has been a challenge for the past several months. With all the growth in the area, the need for more parking spaces to accommodate passengers is present. For the holiday weekend, the airport will have extra lots, but they will not be as close to the terminals.
“Our parking lots are going to become fuller much more quickly,” Betcher said. “They may reach capacity. We do have contingency plans for off-site, or not off-site, but near parking on airport property. It just may be a little further from the terminal building than what passengers may be used to.”
Travelers should not expect anything out of the ordinary at security checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration monitors when airports will be busiest, and for Myrtle Beach, that is the summer.
“During the summer months, we have such a large increase in traffic, the TSA will actually send other officers from different airports and around the country to kinda help facilitate that increased demand,” Betcher said. “It may be a little bit busier during certain days around Thanksgiving, but it really shouldn’t be anything that’s different than what we see during the summer.”
Even though the airport is not expecting anything too out of the ordinary, it is important to be prepared when arriving at or departing from Myrtle Beach or any airport.
“Allow yourself a little bit extra time, Betcher said. “Have a little bit more patience, if possible. Come to the airport an hour and a half, two hours early just so you can find parking.”