Santa Barbara Airport
The Santa Barbara Airport has had a record 1 million passengers this year, and officials say Thanksgiving week is already seeing increased traffic. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

With travel getting back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic, the coming holiday season promises to see a rush of people at airports, train stations and on the roads.

The Santa Barbara Airport has had a record 1 million passengers for the year as of October, according to Angi Daus, the airport’s marketing supervisor.

To accommodate the influx, Daus said the airlines have increased the number of available seats by 22%. This is done by flying bigger jets in and out of Santa Barbara, with about 20 flights leaving the airport each day.

She said the airport already had seen an increase of passengers a week before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Passengers flying out of the Santa Barbara Airport should plan to arrive two hours ahead of their expected departure time, Daus said, especially if they are checking bags and will be leaving their cars in the airport’s parking lots.

“Our motto going into the holidays is arrive early and be prepared,” she told Noozhawk.

The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner will implement temporary service adjustments to account for the expected increase of travelers heading into the holiday weekend, according to an Amtrak news release.

Starting Wednesday and continuing through Nov. 28, Amtrak will require advanced reservations for tickets on Pacific Surfliner trains with additional train cars and shuttle buses being put into service to help with the expected traffic.

To ensure an easier trip during high traffic periods, the Amtrak officials recommend that travelers cancel a trip if they need to — for a full refund — and limit luggage to two bags per passenger, each weighing no more than 50 pounds and not larger than 28 by 22 by 11 inches; arrive at least 45 minutes before the scheduled departure; and travel off-peak days (Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday of Thanksgiving week).

Caltrans District 5 spokeswoman Alexa Bertola said there are no highway lane closures scheduled in Santa Barbara County for Thanksgiving week.

She said drivers making a long commute should check to ensure their tires, brakes and windshield wipers are in good condition and allow plenty of time for travel to make it to their destination.

Travelers heading north from Santa Barbara on Highway 101 should note that both Gaviota rest areas are still closed and under construction.

Noozhawk staff writer Grace Kitayama can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.