BOSTON (CBS) – They’ll all be coming home.
By the end of the day, Sunday will be the busiest day of the year at Logan Airport and Monday won’t be far behind. What have we learned about travel over the Thanksgiving holiday? One thing we have learned is that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is not the busiest air travel day of the year anymore.
If you fly over the holiday, and less than 10 percent of travelers do, your trip usually extends for more than a couple of days. Increased airfares and fewer flights cause people to extend their stays.
Massport officials expected about 800,000 passengers to use the Boston airport during the holiday. Figuring that Logan is headed for a record 29 million people coming and going this year, that’s an average of 80,000 per day. The rush started on November 18 and lasted until November 28.
To say that the airport will be busy on Sunday can be seen by the number of taxi trips departing Logan. Massport estimates 10,000 trips from the four terminals compared with the normal daily average of about 4,000.
These were not business travelers, but family members coming and going for the holiday.
The most surprising thing about holiday travel this year took place at South Station on Tuesday November 22. The rail and bus terminal did record business with bus travel up about 20 percent over the previous day a year ago.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Peter Pan Bus Company Executive Vice President Bob Schwarz surveying the crowds. “It’s a combination of predicted bad weather, schools letting out early, wi-fi and attractive low fares.”
Schwarz might have added a couple of other points. Bus companies like Peter Pan have added the ability of passengers to reserve seats on line for a small fee. That also allows people to board the buses first to select a seat.
Peter Pan added a total of 280 bus trips in the northeast corridor over the Thanksgiving holiday period.
Amtrak also added cars to its schedule. A relative of mine that wanted to travel from Boston to New York Sunday found all of the trains sold out and had to settle for the bus.
The northeast had pretty good weather over the holiday period and there were few delays reported.
Next Wednesday in Washington, the Department of Transportation will hold a forum to discuss weather-related aircraft diversions related to the Halloween storm last month. Logan was at the center of that problem. Two large arriving aircraft tied-up valuable diversion space at the Boston airport that was operating normally. Massport notified the FAA that they would handle emergencies, but wanted other aircraft diverted to other New England airports. What happened next is unclear. T.F. Green Airport in Providence was also operating normally.
Bradley International Airport got more than 20 diversions as the storm hit area airports at the same time. Bradley was simply overwhelmed with planes with delays for stranded passengers sitting for up to four hours waiting to reach a terminal. The FAA can impose fines when a wait exceeds three hours on the tarmac.
Winter is coming and this diversion situation needs to be resolved.
Bob Weiss and “All Things Travel” can be heard weekends on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.