HEBRON, Ky. — The busiest travel day of the year in Cincinnati ended without major delays Thursday.
AAA predicted most people would be on the roadways between noon and 6 p.m. Lines were long at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport throughout the day.
Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, many families haven't visited since the 2019 holiday season. AAA and the Transportation Safety Administration predicted overall travel to be 90% of pre-pandemic levels.
WCPO anchor Julie O'Neill flew Thursday and noted the airport was more crowded with longer check-in lines than she's seen in years.
Passengers at the airport were arriving early expecting long waits through security. O'Neill said despite the packed airport, people were moving through quickly.
AAA predicted 6 million people would travel the holiday season from Thursday to Monday, Jan. 3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend being fully vaccinated before flying and having a COVID test before.
Barbara Nethers and her husband left their Tennessee home around 6 a.m. Thursday to make it to family in Ohio without hitting congestion. During that time, the Tri-State saw its largest backup on I-71 North near the Ridge Road exit just after noon.
"Take it easy," Nethers said. "A lot of trucks out there this morning, but they’re traveling well."
Holiday travel rush begins. AAA expects noon to 6 today to be busiest. At least one crash caused some problems this afternoon on I-71 in Cincinnati. You can see the backup on the northbound side near the Kenwood exit. @wcpo pic.twitter.com/FGGGq6Lz1W— Courtney Francisco (@CFranciscoWCPO) December 23, 2021
AAA said 4.4 million Ohioans are expected to travel the roadways this holiday, a 26% increase from 2020. The next busiest travel day will likely be the day after Christmas, when AAA suggests leaving before noon.
Road trips remain the top mode of travel during the holidays. Average gas prices are at $3.29 a gallon, which is the highest holiday price at the pump since 2008. The current average in Ohio and Indiana is just about $3. In Kentucky, prices are averaging around $2.95.