Skip to content

Travel near pre-pandemic levels expected for Thanksgiving

(CNN) — Thanksgiving travel is expected to reach nearly 98% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the auto and travel club AAA.

54.6 million holiday travelers are expected, up 1.5% from 2021, making this Thanksgiving the third busiest since AAA began tracking travel volumes in 2000 (this number peaked in 2005 and was the second highest). Before the 2019 pandemic. )

“It seems counter-intuitive given inflation and rising gas prices. Demand for travel is high right now,” AAA spokeswoman Aixa Diaz told CNN. email.

Gasoline is expensive, but after averaging $3.77 a gallon nationwide on Monday, gas prices have fallen over the past month and are well below their peak of $5 a gallon in mid-June. .

According to Diaz, Americans are more accustomed to using public transportation such as planes and trains again, and are budgeting for travel.

“They are cutting back on other areas of their lives — eating out at cheaper restaurants, shopping less — changing their daily driving by condensing errands to save gas. There is,” Diaz said.

“But AAA doesn’t see any desire to stop leisure travel. In fact, quite the opposite!”

8% more air travel

The number of Americans expected to travel by air is nearly 8% higher than in 2021. His 4.5 million Americans who fly during the holiday period, which is five days from Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27, are almost 99% of what they were in 2019. Volume.

“Airport parking spaces fill up quickly, so book your spot in advance and arrive early,” said Paula Twidale, AAA senior vice president of travel, in a statement. “Expect long queues at TSA. If possible, avoid checking bags so you have flexibility in case your flight is delayed or you need to reschedule.”

According to Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, airfares have actually leveled off, even though almost everything feels more expensive these days.

For about two years, from around March 2020 to around March 2022, airfare “bottomed out,” Keyes said. Then I “really zoomed in” on Spring.

“It has since returned to Earth, but now, if you squint, it looks essentially normal. It looks like it did pre-pandemic,” Keys said.

It’s not that it’s not higher than last year. “Even after adjusting for inflation, airfares today are 34% higher than he was 12 months ago,” Keyes said.

Flight information will be displayed at Newark Liberty International Airport on July 3, 2022. Hundreds of flights have been canceled across the United States ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

John Nacion/Starmax/IPx/AP

With demand as high as this holiday season, many air travelers are preparing for the chaos after the cancellations and delays plagued by the summer season.

Nick Cario, president and CEO of trade group Airlines for America, told CNN’s Pete Muntean that airlines have “been more prepared than ever.”

“They have adjusted schedules, hired heavily, and put people in the right place at the right time,” he said.

What is Kallio’s biggest concern?

“I worry about the weather. I am always worried because it is the number one culprit that can ruin flights and flight patterns, but I think they are flexible enough to handle any cancellations or delays. Be prepared to try to take people where they want to go.”

Traffic decreased on the Harbor Freeway in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

Traffic decreased on the Harbor Freeway in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

Luis Cinco/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Most travelers drive

Most travelers drive to their destination. Historically so. About 49 million people are expected to travel by car this year. This is 2.5% below his 2019 level, but up 0.4% from last year. AAA’s predictions focus on his travels more than 50 miles away from home.

Highways are expected to be congested, especially in metropolitan areas. INRIX, which provides travel insights, suggests traveling early Wednesday morning or before 11am on Thanksgiving to avoid the busiest times for the holiday weekend. Also avoid Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 4pm and 8pm.

Travel by other modes of transport is also approaching pre-pandemic levels.

More than 1.4 million travelers are expected to travel by bus, train or cruise ship during the Thanksgiving holiday, representing 96% of the number of travelers in 2019.

Above: Travelers queue at security at Orlando International Airport during Thanksgiving 2021 travel (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)