Millions of travelers take to the skies during the holiday season

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The year-end holiday travel season is officially upon us.

AAA predicts 98.6 million Americans will leave towns across the country. Nearly six million of them will be traveling by air.

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Waving goodbye as they wheel their luggage toward TSA, Lisa Reyes Mason, Dan Grabel and 6-year-old Cora Grabel get ready to head to sunny California for Christmas vacation.

“We look forward to the sun in beautiful San Diego,” said Reyes Mason.

It’s a trip the trio takes every year, traveling thousands of miles across the country to spend the holidays with family and friends.

“You’re with people that you love and you’re celebrating the holiday with folks that you want to be with,” said Grabel.

To get there, they’ll be traveling with thousands of others. Across the country, AAA says 5.7 million people will fly. However, it’s a crowd the family is prepared for.

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“We’re pretty flexible when it comes to holiday rush and just going with the flow. We packed a lot of books and games and snacks and just a lot of things to keep everybody happy,” said Reyes Mason.

Airport spokesperson, Becky Huckaby, says McGhee Tyson can see up to 8,000 travelers a day during the holidays.

“We’re seeing a lot more people coming through. The lines are a little bit longer, so we’re asking passengers to give themselves plenty of time to get to the airport so they can get to their check point and get to their gate in plenty of time to make their flight,” she said.

If you’re heading out to catch a flight this holiday season, airline staff want to remind you to check on your departure time before you head out the door, especially because of the inclement weather being seen across the country.

No matter the wait or the weather, Roxanne Carr couldn’t be more excited to travel this holiday. She’s surprising her mom, sister and step-dad in San Diego.

“It’s been four years since I’ve been there and it’s a surprise for Christmas,” she said.

The year-end holiday travel season runs through Sunday, Jan. 4.

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