AAA predicts Thanksgiving travel will return to near pre-pandemic levels

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — AAA predicts 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020.

This brings travel volumes within 5% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with air travel almost completely recovering from its dramatic fall during the pandemic, up 80% over last year.

Some other notes in the AAA press release are:

  • Up to 53.4 million travelers are expected this Thanksgiving, 6.4 million more than in 2020, a 13% increase.
  • 2021 will see the largest one-year travel volume increase in Thanksgiving travelers since 2005.
  • Auto travel is expected to account for nearly 90% of all trips this holiday (compared to 95% last year)
  • Air travel is expected to increase by 80%, with 4.2 million Americans flying this holiday, compared to 2.3 million in 2020.

The AAA release states that travelers should be prepared for roads and airports to be noticeably more crowded this holiday season.

“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,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “But it also means airports will be busier than we’ve seen, so travelers must plan for longer lines and extra time for TSA checks.”

AAA notes that the actual number of holiday travelers could fluctuate as we approach Thanksgiving. If there is an increase in reported COVID-19 cases, some people may decide to stay home, while others may note the progress in vaccinations and make last-minute decisions to travel.

AAA urges anyone considering gathering or traveling for Thanksgiving to consult CDC guidance before finalizing holiday plans.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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