Record numbers of people will be out and about over 2023’s Thanksgiving in the US, according to forecasts by the American Automobile Association (AAA). The motorist’s advocate has also issued some advice to help those undertaking journeys during what is expected to be an all-time record travel period.
More than 49 million Americans are expected on the roads over the holiday, which traditionally falls on the fourth Thursday in November. Between Wednesday 22 November and the Sunday immediately after the big day, 55.4 million people are anticipated to be making some sort of trip. And an “all-time record number of passengers” should be seen at US airports, if Transportation Security Administration calculations are correct. The AAA puts this year’s Thanksgiving flyers at seven percent more than last year.
Highlighting the ongoing high demand for travel, Aixa Diaz of AAA, said that “the trend” was for travel “in very large volumes”, adding “the demand for travel just continues to go up year after year, and this Thanksgiving is no exception.”
Remote schedules a gamechanger
The AAA has been monitoring travel behaviours for over 20 years. It suggests that overall Thanksgiving 2023 will see two percent more travel than last year and will be the third-busiest ever since it began its records, behind 2019 and 2005. That does not even factor in anyone who chooses to make their Thanksgiving trip outside of the normal five- day focus period – which could be a significant number, due to changes in working patterns and hybrid employment that are freeing up more Americans to take vacations and make visits than have ever been able to do so before, in a country where many people enjoy very limited holiday allowances compared to Europe and elsewhere.
“Hybrid schedules and remote schedules have changed everything,” said Diaz, adding that one of the best times to travel for speed and convenience is Thanksgiving morning itself. “Now people can leave for holiday travel at different times.”
Return to routine could be painful
Nonetheless, the return to work is less flexible, Diaz notes, with most people having to make their way back to their homes and routines on the Sunday after the holiday. Aviation analysts Cirium have confirmed this, predicting over three million seats will be occupied on around 22,000 flights that day.
With the US aviation sector battling ongoing recruitment, capacity and safety problems, this could well mean delays and frustrations for many, not least the aviation workers themselves, who may be asked to work without pay due to a looming federal shutdown over budget disagreement.