Americans hit the road again on Thanksgiving Eve
The travel frenzy on the eve of Thanksgiving is back in the United States. Americans hit the road, shrugging off anxiety over inflation to reconnect with their loved ones and rejoice in the return to normalcy after two years of restrictions because of COVID-19.
The busiest days of Thanksgiving week are usually Tuesday, Wednesday and the Sunday after the holiday.
This year, the Federal Aviation Administration estimated Tuesday was the busiest day, with about 48,000 scheduled flights.
Chris Williams of Raleigh, North Carolina, flew with his wife and two children to Atlanta, Georgia, Tuesday morning to spend the holiday with relatives.
“Of course, flying is stressful and a big expense right now,” said Williams, 44, who works in finance. – But after two years of not being able to spend Thanksgiving with family, I’d say we have a sense of gratitude that the world has become a safe enough place for us to be with our loved ones again.”
More than 2.6 million passengers passed through the Transportation Security Administration on Monday, more than on the same day in 2019: 2.5 million traveled then.
The same trend was seen on Sunday, when the number of people traveling on Thanksgiving week flights exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
“People travel on different days. Not everyone travels on a Wednesday night,” said Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president of the industry group Airlines for America. – “People are spreading their travel throughout the week, which I think will also help ensure a smoother ride.
The American Automobile Association predicts that 54.6 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home. That’s 1.5 percent more than last year’s Thanksgiving and only 2 percent less than in 2019.
Meanwhile, nearly 49 million will travel by car and 4.5 million will fly by air between Wednesday and Sunday.
This year, U.S. airlines are struggling to keep up with passenger growth.
“We’ve had a tough summer,” said Pinkerton, whose industry group speaks for the likes of American, United and Delta. – The airlines have hired thousands of workers, she said, and they have more pilots now than before the pandemic. – So we’re confident the week will go well.”
U.S. airlines plan to operate 13 percent fewer flights this week than in 2019. However, by using more spacious planes, the total number of seats will drop by only 2 percent, according to Cirium, a travel research firm.
The Transportation Security Administration predicts airports will be busier this year than last year and likely about the same level as 2019.
The busiest day in the department’s history was the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019, when nearly 2.9 million people were screened at airports.