Travelers report fewer complications this holiday season

Holidays

MIAMI (NewsNation) — Thanksgiving travel is in full force across the nation, with AAA estimating about 4.5 million people would fly over the holiday weekend, an increase of more than 8 percent from last year.

In Miami, NewsNation’s Xavier Walton said Thursday looked like a normal travel day in terms of business, despite it being the holiday.

“There were no lines, everybody was super kind, everybody’s in the holiday spirit, so it was great,” Brittany Peck, one traveler who flew into Miami from Philadelphia on Wednesday, told NewsNation.

As of 8 a.m. CT, there had been just over 500 flights delayed and only 28 flights canceled, according to the flight tracker FlightAware.

By the time NewsNation’s Brooke Shafer arrived at Miami International Airport around noon CT, she reported only 50 cancellations across the country.

A couple of things have worked well this Thanksgiving: Airlines scaled back flights and hired more people — an effort travel experts say airlines will be looking to apply to future dates.

“Thanksgiving’s going to be the first real test of whether the airlines can handle the renewed crowds at airports.” Clint Henderson of The Points Guy said on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Thursday. 

The busiest travel days during Thanksgiving week are usually Tuesday, Wednesday and the Sunday after the holiday. This year, the Federal Aviation Administration expected Tuesday to be the busiest travel day, with roughly 48,000 scheduled flights.

The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.2 million travelers on Monday, over 2.2 million travelers on Tuesday and in excess of 2.4 million passengers on Wednesday. The same trend occurred Sunday, marking the first year that the number of people catching planes on Thanksgiving week surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

“Sunday is the busiest day of 2022,” Johnny Jet, a travel expert, said while appearing on “Rush Hour” on Thursday.

“It won’t be as busy as 2019, but the airports are going to be packed, the roads are going to be packed. Make sure you allow plenty of time because if you miss that flight, you could be stuck for a couple of days depending on the destination,” he said.

The biggest setback for travelers this year has been airfare costs.

Reduced flights and booming demand have sent airline fares soaring. Domestic airfare for Thanksgiving is 17% higher than last year and in line with 2019 prices, according to the travel app Hopper. International airfare is 30% higher than in 2019.

AAA predicted that 54.6 million people would travel at least 50 miles from home in the U.S. this week, a 1.5% bump over Thanksgiving last year and only 2% less than in 2019. The auto club and insurance seller said 4.5 million will fly between Wednesday and Sunday.

With a rise in demand for less expensive travel options — including buses and trains — AAA estimated nearly 49 million will travel by car between Wednesday and Sunday.

According to GasBuddy, prices will be at their highest seasonal level ever for Thanksgiving; regular unleaded is nearly 30 cents higher than last year.

Here are the best and worst times to travel by car this holiday, according to AAA:

On Thanksgiving Day, the best time to travel is before 11 a.m. and after 6 p.m. The worst time is between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the worst times to travel remain between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. The best time on those days is before 11 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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