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Busy holiday travel season underway in Las Vegas – Las Vegas Review-Journal

An expected 113 million people are expected to to travel between 11-day period between Friday and Jan. 2, according to AAA data.
The end of year holiday travel rush is underway across the nation, with many travelers making their way in and out Southern Nevada.
An estimated 113 million people are expected to travel during the 11-day period between Friday and Jan. 2, according to AAA data. That represents a 3.3 percent increase over the same timeframe last year and it’s expected to be the busiest holiday season since pre-pandemic 2019.
Of those, around 102 million people will travel by car and an estimated 7.2 million people will travel by air.
“With Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on a Sunday, heavier traffic can be expected through the end of the year,” Brian Ng, senior vice president of membership and travel marketing for AAA Nevada, said in a statement.
The good news for those traveling by car is that gas prices have been dropping in recent weeks. The average price of a gallon of regular gas was $3.90 in Las Vegas on Wednesday and $4.01 statewide. The price in Las Vegas is down significantly from the all-time high of $5.61 per gallon set on June 16.
Those traveling by air this week could face delays or cancellations as a major winter storm is slated to slam the Midwest on Thursday and Friday. AAA recommends checking the forecast and flight status before heading to the airport.
The so-called “bomb cyclone” is expected to create blizzard-like conditions through a widespread area that will greatly impact the airport system. There is a trickle down effect nationally when any area of the country is impacted by severe weather and so delays or cancellations could occur at Harry Reid International Airport.
As of early Thursday, more than 1,400 flights into and around the U.S. had been canceled, with the majority of those in Chicago and Denver, according to airline tracking service FlightAware. In Las Vegas, there are 127 delays and 39 cancellations Thursday morning at Reid, according to FlightAware.
On the roads
Those driving to and from the Las Vegas Valley should be prepared for increased traffic on most days over the 11-day stretch, though some days will see more congestion than others.
Friday is forecast to see heavy traffic on Interstate 15 from Las Vegas to Primm between noon and 4 p.m., with light traffic expected on Saturday for Christmas Eve and Sunday for Christmas Day, according to the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.
That changes on Monday when the heaviest traffic of the Christmas weekend is expected. The RTC suggests travelers avoid the I-15 southbound to Primm between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
For the days surrounding New Year’s Eve, the RTC expects heavier than usual traffic on I-15 southbound between Las Vegas and Primm on Dec. 30, with lighter traffic predicted for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
As revelers head back to Southern California on Jan. 2, the RTC says to avoid I-15 southbound near the state line between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., unless sitting in a miles-long parking lot sounds like an enjoyable way to start 2o23.
Heavier than usual traffic is forecast for I-15 southbound from state line between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Jan. 3, with light traffic expected along the stretch on Jan. 4.
For those utilizing public transportation, RTC buses will operate on a Saturday schedule Dec. 24-26 and Dec. 31-Jan. 2.
The RTC will also offer free rides on buses on all transit routes from 6 p.m. Dec. 31 through 9 a.m. Jan. 1 for New Year’s Eve. Riders can board any bus during that time without purchasing a pass or paying a fare.
In the skies
Anyone flying out of Reid airport over the holidays should be prepared for longer than usual wait times during pre-flight screening and baggage check.
Airport officials recommend arriving at the airport at least two hours before a scheduled departure, and suggest tacking on more time if you plan to park at the airport.
With the expected increase in travelers, traffic on airport roadways will be heavier than usual. Delays are expected for drivers heading to both the departure curbs and passenger pickup.
Many airport parking areas also will hit capacity, including the Terminal 1 long term garage and the Terminal 3 economy lot. Customers will be redirected to available parking facilities, which may have different rates than the two aforementioned lots.
Airport officials recommended parking at the Terminal 3 long term garage to avoid wasting time by trying one of the more popular lots in hopes that it won’t be at capacity.
Travelers without checked bags can go through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Terminal 3 and access their departure gate via tram.
For travelers needing to check bags at Terminal 1, a courtesy shuttle is available to transport them between terminals. The shuttle is located on Level Zero of both terminals and runs every 15 minutes.
Prepare for the security checkpoint by carrying proper identification and boarding pass and making sure not to pack or carry on any prohibited items. Visit www.tsa.gov to be up to date with the latest security checkpoint policies and procedures.
An increase in travelers also means more demand, and longer waits, for food and beverage options inside the airport.
Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.
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