Airports and roads may seem jam packed in late November this year as AAA predicts 53.4 million people to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday – an increase of 13 percent compared to 2020. The group projects that 48.3 million of them will travel via the nation’s roadways to and from their holiday destinations.
[Above photo by the Virginia DOT]
That brings travel volumes within 5 percent of 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, with air travel almost completely recovering from a dramatic 80 percent drop off during 2020 due to COVID-19.
“This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year,” explained Paula Twidale, senior vice president at AAA Travel, in a statement. “Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holiday.”
AAA added that with 6.4 million more people traveling this Thanksgiving coupled with the recent re-opening of the U.S. borders to fully vaccinated international travelers, people should prepare for roads and airports to be noticeably more crowded.
“International travel re-opening will allow people to reconnect with friends and family and explore new places, while also giving a much-needed boost to the economy,” Twidale added. “But it also means airports will be busier than we’ve seen, so travelers must plan for long lines and extra time for TSA checks.”
She noted that AAA’s 2021 forecast marks the highest single-year increase in Thanksgiving travelers since 2005, bringing travel volumes close to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Despite gas costing over a dollar more per gallon this year compared to the same period in 2020,
AAA said nearly 90 percent of those planning Thanksgiving travel will use motor vehicles as their preferred mode of travel.