West Michigan travel picks up just before Christmas

Posted at 8:12 PM, Dec 23, 2015

WEST MICHIGAN -- It's one of the busiest travel days of the year. Millions of Americans are boarding trains, planes and hitting the roads for Christmas.

Passengers at the Gerald Ford International Airport were greeted by a patriotic welcome mixed with the Christmas spirit. The Patriot Guard Riders and the Military Moms greeted surprised servicemen and women who stepped off planes.

Jacob Farrell of Muskegon is in the Navy. He said he took a direct flight from Connecticut, and his travel was smooth. It was all topped off by a big hug from his family.

"The whole welcoming home, that means a lot. I thought I was just coming home to grab my sea bag and go in the car and go home. But that was really nice to have all the branches welcome me home," he said of the crowd.

His mother, Deena Farrell said, "This just makes it extra special."

Alexandra Tolhurst flew home from college in Philadelphia to Kalamazoo to visit family for a few days. She's now flying back to Philly.

“I like traveling, but it depends on what airport I’m going through. Having to go through Chicago was kind of nerve-wracking because it’s such a big airport, but being in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo is totally fine," Tolhurst said.

Airport spokesperson Tara Hernandez explained, “We’re seeing record numbers. Our passenger traffic in general is up over 9% for the year. Around the holidays it gets a little bit busy. So the next few days, the next few weeks even going into the new year, we’re seeing record travel numbers."

If you’re flying for Christmas, Hernandez suggests you show up to the airport little earlier.