Holiday week travel ramps up at area airports and on roads

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Holiday travel is ramping up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

In fact, LaGuardia Airport is expected to be the busiest it has been since before the pandemic.

There was already a lot of traffic at Terminal B Arrivals well before dawn on Monday, and it's only expected to get more crowded as the week goes on.

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Joe Torres has more on how the nation is preparing for pre-pandemic levels of Thanksgiving travel.

So far an estimated 1.4 million passengers are expected to travel through NYC area airports during the next five days. Port Authority says Newark and LaGuardia are expected to surpass 90% of pre-pandemic levels.

As more visitors return to NYC for the holiday and the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the emphasis remains on keeping New Yorkers safe.

"Heavy, heavy focus on vaccination, heavy focus on youth vaccination, heavy focus on boosters -- if we keep doing that, we can protect the people of the city, we can make sure that we save lives, we can make sure that our hospitals are going to be OK," said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

AAA estimates more than 53 million Americans are traveling this week, with air travel reaching near pre-pandemic levels.

At the same time, there is a vaccine mandate taking effect today for federal workers, including TSA agents.

TSA Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein confirmed Monday that 93% of the agency's workers are in compliance with the mandate, meaning the majority of its workforce has had at least one shot or filed for a medical or religious exemption.

The agency reiterated what TSA Administrator David Pekoske told ABC News on Sunday: that the mandate will not impact Thanksgiving travel.

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"I don't think implementation of the mandate will have any effect on staffing whatsoever," Pekoske said. "In fact, implementation of the mandate will make travel safer and healthier for everyone. We've seen a significant increase in the number of our officers vaccinated, so I'm very confident that there will be no impact for Thanksgiving."

Despite that reassurance, travel experts say it is still a good idea to leave extra time if you are heading to the airport, the train station or the highway, with at least six million more people traveling this year than last.

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The owner hopes the generous customer returns so they can thank him for the kind gesture.

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