This year’s Thanksgiving air travel is expected to reach unprecedented levels, even in the face of high inflation affecting consumer confidence. Airlines for America, a trade group representing major passenger and cargo airlines including industry giants like Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), and UPS (NYSE:UPS), has projected that U.S. airlines anticipate a record-breaking nearly 30 million travelers during the Thanksgiving travel period from November 17th to the 27th. This reflects a substantial 9% year-over-year increase, with 1.7 million more passengers compared to pre-COVID record levels.
The group also estimates an average of about 2.7 million passengers flying per day over the holiday, marking a 9% year-over-year rise. Notably, November 26th is anticipated to be the busiest day of the holiday period, with an unprecedented 3.2 million passengers expected to travel. Concurrently, the Transportation Security Administration has reported that this year’s holiday travel season is poised to be its busiest ever, with an estimated 30 million passengers projected to be screened from November 17th to the 28th. November 26th is also expected to emerge as the peak travel day, with over 2.9 million passengers anticipated to undergo screening.
These anticipated record travel numbers come despite the waiver of minimum flight requirements at congested New York airports by the Federal Aviation Administration due to air traffic controller staffing challenges. Additionally, road travel is expected to be bustling during this period, with the American Automobile Association forecasting 55.4 million travelers venturing 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday period, marking a 2.3% year-over-year increase.
Paula Twidale, senior VP of AAA Travel, remarked, “This holiday, we expect more people on the roads, skies, and seas compared to 2022,” emphasizing the enduring strength of travel demand throughout the year.