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AAA: Thanksgiving travel will nearly reach pre-pandemic levels

More than 53 million Americans expected to travel
Airlines Travel
Posted at 5:58 AM, Nov 09, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Pack your patience if you plan to travel this holiday season; AAA says Thanksgiving travel is expected to be nearly what it was in 2019.

According to AAA, more than 53.4 million Americans are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, bringing travel volumes within 5% of pre-pandemic levels. The 13% jump in travel is the highest single-year increase since 2005.

Air travel, specifically, is expected to almost fully recover from its dramatic drop in 2020.

Experts with AAA say 6.4 million more people are expected to travel this Thanksgiving. Add onto that the borders reopening to fully vaccinated international travel, and AAA says you can expect the airports and highways to be much more crowded in the coming weeks.

"If you think of air travel, look at the TSA numbers. They're kind of getting back on track with the 2019 levels if you look at the daily numbers of people going through the TSA," said Elizabeth Carey, AAA Western and Central New York's director of public relations. "Road trips were really popular last year when people weren't flying so much. This year, we expect to have a lot of people flying and a lot of people driving to their destinations."

Despite the expected surge in air traffic for the holiday, AAA says the vast majority of Americans — some 48 million — will drive to their destinations.

AAA releases its Thanksgiving travel forecast

The rise in road-trippers is also happening in spite of high gas prices and lower airfares nationwide. AAA says gas costs over a dollar more per gallon than it did in November 2020 on average but still, 90% of people plan to drive.

Gas prices have been hovering around $3.45 per gallon in the Buffalo area since late October.

Regardless of how you plan to get to your holiday destinations, AAA offers the following tips to make sure you are ready to travel this year:

  • Be proactive: book flights, hotels and rental cars as early as possible
  • Be patient: roads and airways will be much busier than they were last year
  • Be prepared: keep a roadside emergency kit in your car and have a plan in case you get stuck