As Thanksgiving approaches, America is set to witness a resurgence in holiday travel, with over 55 million people expected to journey 50 miles or more, as projected by the American Automobile Association (AAA). The bulk of the crowd, around 49.1 million, will hit the road, while approximately 4.7 million people will take to the skies.
Although the total traveler count is 2.3% higher than the previous year, it still falls short of pre-pandemic numbers by 1% to 2%, according to Forbes. Conversely, air travel is expected to surge by 6.6% compared to last year and surpass 2019 levels by 2.5%, marking the busiest Thanksgiving for aerial travel since 2005.
Moreover, nearly 11% more passengers than last year are expected to choose cruise ships, trains, or buses, offering a glimmer of revival for the cruise industry.
AAA’s data suggests potential congestion on various modes of transport. For air travel, the busiest days will be the Tuesday and Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving and the following Sunday and Monday. For road travel, Wednesday afternoon is set to see the worst traffic.
If these projections are accurate, this year could rank as the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since 2000, reflecting a significant rebound in holiday travel from the pandemic-induced slump.
Government Shutdown Possibility During Holiday Travel 2023
Airports across the nation are bracing for potential disruptions as the threat of a government shutdown looms, pending Congress’ ability to reach a resolution this Saturday.
The potential shutdown could affect around 50,000 TSA agents and 13,000 federal air traffic controllers. Despite being considered essential workers, they might have to work without paychecks. This predicament could lead to longer wait times and delays at airports, escalating the usual stress during this high-demand travel season.
Travel expert Gabe Sagile says “the Sunday after Thanksgiving is expected to be the busiest travel day of the entire year.”
However, Sagile also suggests an unexpected upside to the current situation: this period might be an opportune time for international travel amidst the predominantly domestic travel demand during Thanksgiving.