Sergio Avila

AAA Predicts Thanksgiving Travel to Rebound to Near Pre-Pandemic Levels

Americans are eager to reunite with their families after forgoing travel for much of the pandemic

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (Nov. 9, 2021) – Pack your patience! Airports and roads may be jam-packed this year as AAA predicts 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020. As restrictions continue to lift and consumer confidence builds, AAA urges travelers to be proactive when making their travel plans this holiday season.

“Travel volumes have recovered within 5% of pre-pandemic levels, and air travel has almost entirely recovered from its dramatic decline during, up 80% over last year,” said Sergio Avila, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. “Those traveling this Thanksgiving can expect to face more crowded roads and airports than they’ve seen in some time.”

With 6.4 million more people traveling this Thanksgiving coupled with the recent opening of the U.S. borders to fully vaccinated international travelers—people should prepare for roads and airports to be noticeably more crowded.

Navigating the New Travel Landscape

Whether you plan to do so by car or plane, it’s important to know how to navigate the new travel landscape to avoid unnecessary stress and challenges on the way to your Thanksgiving destination:

Be Proactive. Book flights, car rentals, accommodations and other activities as early as possible.

Be Patient. The roads and airports will be busy so plan ahead. For domestic air travel, AAA suggests arriving at the airport 2 hours ahead of departure time and 3 hours for international. Wednesday afternoon will be the busiest on the roads.

Be Prepared. Make sure you and your vehicle are road trip ready. AAA expects to help over 400,000 Members over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Check out AAA Northern California's Stress Less Checklist to prepare.

Be Protected. AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and are helpful resources travelers may use for free to understand closures, recommendations and requirements when traveling in the U.S. Also ensure you have masks ready as they are still required in many locations.

Forecast Methodology:

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit—a world leader in critical information, analytics and expertise—developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from IHS Markit’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays.