AAA projects 4.2 million air travelers over Thanksgiving

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Airplane wing [Credit: BABAROGA/Shutterstock.com]
AAA says that the average lowest airfare is 27.3% less than last Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: BABAROGA/Shutterstock

AAA forecasts that 4.2 million Americans will travel by air this Thanksgiving, an 83% increase from last Thanksgiving, when the CDC urged people to stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The projected total is 9% less than the 4.6 million who traveled for Thanksgiving in 2019. 

"This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year," said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. "Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holiday." 

Twidale added, "Airports will be busier than we've seen, so travelers must plan for longer lines and extra time for TSA checks."

Even with air travel seeing a boost this year, AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 27.3% less than last year at $132. Tuesday and Wednesday are still the most expensive and heaviest travel days with Monday being the lightest and least expensive.

AAA said those wanting to book last-minute travel will find the best fares about two weeks before Thanksgiving, but availability may be limited.

While airfares have fallen from last year, hotel and car rental prices have gone up. Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 39% from 2020, with average daily rates ranging between $137 and $172 for AAA Approved Hotels.

Daily car rental rates have increased 4% compared to last Thanksgiving at $98. 

With cruising returning this year, the numbers of Americans traveling this Thanksgiving in the "other" category (bus, trains and cruises) is expected to hit 1 million, up from 281,000 last year and down from 1.5 million in 2019.

In order, the top domestic destinations this Thanksgiving are Orlando; Anaheim, Calif.; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Phoenix; Honolulu; Maui; Atlanta; Tampa; and Fort Lauderdale. 

The top international destinations are Cancun; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Aruba; Los Cabos, Mexico; Nassau, Bahamas; St. Lucia; Dublin, Ireland; Tel Aviv, Israel; Calgary, Canada; and Paris.

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