Anticipated Surge in Thanksgiving Travel: Millions are expected to travel during the Thanksgiving break, setting potential records in airport and highway traffic. This surge comes despite the backdrop of inflation and previous holiday travel difficulties.
Peak Travel Days Identified: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates its busiest days to be the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the following Sunday. An estimated 2.9 million passengers are expected on Sunday, which could surpass the record set on June 30.
Highway Travel Predictions: AAA forecasts that over 55 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home, with the heaviest road traffic expected on Wednesday. This represents a significant portion of holiday travelers, despite economic pressures.
Weather as a Potential Disruptor: A storm system moving across the U.S. could complicate both air and road travel. Severe thunderstorms, gusty winds, and possible snow are forecasted, prompting travelers to stay informed about conditions.
Government Preparations for Holiday Travel: U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighted government efforts to prepare for the holiday rush, including hiring more air traffic controllers and providing grants for airport snowplows and deicing equipment. However, he stressed the unpredictability of weather conditions.
Declining Travel Costs: Travelers can expect some financial relief. Airfares have dropped 14% compared to last year, averaging $268 per ticket. Gasoline prices are also lower, with the national average at $3.30 per gallon, down from last year’s $3.67.
Consumer Behavior Amid Economic Pressures: Despite lower gas prices, GasBuddy’s survey suggests that the number of long driving trips may not increase significantly. Analyst Patrick De Haan points out that inflation, especially in food costs, and increased credit card usage might impact travel decisions.
Last Year’s Travel Woes as a Cautionary Tale: Memories of last December’s severe winter storms, which disrupted thousands of flights and stranded passengers, linger as a cautionary backdrop to this year’s travel season.
Optimism for Smoother Air Travel: Scott Keyes, founder of the travel site Going, expresses cautious optimism about this year’s holiday air travel. He notes that airlines have largely avoided massive disruptions so far in 2022, differentiating weather-related issues from operational breakdowns.
Southwest Airlines’ Previous Struggles: Last year, Southwest Airlines faced significant operational challenges during the winter storms, resulting in nearly 17,000 flight cancellations. The airline’s slow recovery and system issues led to regulatory scrutiny.