By Bay City News Service
There is expected to be a slight increase in Thanksgiving travelers in the Bay Area and throughout the state, according to travel experts.
According to a report by travel organization AAA, more than 5.4 million Californians plan to travel 50 miles or more over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday, which begins Nov. 22.
This is an increase of just more than half a percent from last year's figures. Travelers headed to holiday destinations by car are expected to increase by half a percent, with more than 4.7 million Californians hopping in a car during the holiday weekend.
More notably, about 169,000 residents are expected to travel by boat, train or other transportation, an increase of 11 percent from last year. At San Francisco International Airport, a record passenger load is expected. The airport expects to see 3 percent more passengers going through the airport compared to Thanksgiving 2011.
Friday was expected to be the busiest travel day of the Thanksgiving holiday period with about 140,000 flyers arriving and departing at SFO. In total, more than 1.2 million travelers will pass through SFO between Friday and Nov. 25, airport officials estimated.
This is the ninth year in a row that SFO has seen more traffic coming through the airport during the start of the holiday season, which will push the airport toward 41 million passengers for all of 2012. To welcome holiday travelers heading to and from the airport, SFO will light up the terminal with holiday lights on Dec. 4. A lighting ceremony is scheduled that day at 5 p.m.
In the South Bay, Mineta San Jose International Airport officials anticipate an increase of up to 2 percent in passenger activity over the Thanksgiving holiday period compared to this time last year. The busiest days are expected to be Wednesday -- the day before Thanksgiving -- through Nov. 26 at the airport, officials said.