Experts expect Americans to be on the move this Thanksgiving. They even see this year’s Thanksgiving as one of the busiest on record.
AAA expects 55.4 million to travel at least 50 miles from their home during the five days starting the day before Thanksgiving. This tally makes this year to be the third busiest Thanksgiving since AAA started tracking holiday travel, surpassed only by the records set in 2005 and 2019.
The organization expects 49.1 million to drive while around 4.7 million are expected to fly. As for the Transportation Security Administration, it expects to screen around 30 million passengers in 12 days starting Friday. The TSA expects the Sunday after Thanksgiving to be the busiest day with the possibility of screening 2.9 million passengers at US airports.
Shortage of Air Traffic Controllers
The rush of travelers comes amid a variety of issues including a shortage of air traffic controllers. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association estimates that there are 1,000 fewer air traffic controllers compared to ten years ago.
Aside from the shortage of air traffic controllers, there are near-miss incidents at airports that raise safety concerns among experts.
Because of these problems, airlines have been continuously hiring and investing in technologies. Southwest Airlines, for instance, invested millions to avoid a repeat of December’s widespread flight cancellations.
For this year, airlines are saying that they are ready for the holiday travel. United Airlines announced that it has more than 550,000 seats ready for the Thanksgiving holiday. Delta Air Lines, on the other hand, estimates 530,000 customers daily. And for American Airlines, they are expecting 8 million to fly in this year’s Thanksgiving period.
End of Revenge Travel
Senior aerospace analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, George Ferguson said that he isn’t surprised by the number of people traveling this Thanksgiving. However, he noted that “revenge travel” seemed to have softened. He said, “I think it’s the end of the post-pandemic frenzy, where you pay whatever it takes to get to Disney.” He added, “People finally went and cried ‘uncle’ on that.”