AAA: More Than 55 Million Travelers Taking to the Roads and Skies this Thanksgiving

The most since 2005; INRIX predicts record delays on Wednesday The most since 2005; INRIX predicts record delays on Wednesday The most since 2005; INRIX predicts record delays on Wednesday

thanksgiving graphic

More than 2.44 New Englanders are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, a 3 percent increase from last year.  Nationally there will be more 55 million travelers, an increase of 1.6 million compared with last year, a 2.9% increase.  This will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005. The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations and, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects Wednesday afternoon to be the worst travel period nationally, with trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metros.

Pat Moody, manger of public affairs for AAA Northern New England Interview

“Millions of thankful Americans are starting the holiday season off right with a Thanksgiving getaway,” said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England. “Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers. Consumer spending remains strong, thanks to increasing wages, disposable income and household wealth, and travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season.”

New England Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

  • AAA projects 2.44 million New Englanders will travel this Thanksgiving an increase of 3.1 percent.  This is the highest Thanksgiving travel forecasted since 2005.
  • Automobiles: Drivers in New England are forecasted to exceed the national average and see an increase of 2.9 percent from 2 million to 2.1 million
  • Planes: Holiday air travel is expected to increase 5 percent to 285,00 leisure travelers.
  • Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will decrease by 1.2 percent to 42,000 passengers.

 

National Thanksgiving travel forecast

 

  • Automobiles: 49.3 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8% more than last year.
  • Planes: With 4.6% growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the Thanksgiving holiday, with 4.45 million Americans expected to fly.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel by other modes will reach 1.49 million, a slight increase of 1.4% from 2018.
     

Nothing worse than Wednesday: Times NOT to be on the road

For the 49.3 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts major delays throughout the week, peaking Wednesday with trips taking as much four times longer as commuters mix with travelers.

“With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week.

 

Metro Area

Worst Time Wednesday, Nov. 27

Delay Multiplier

Atlanta

5:30-7:30 PM

3.5x

Los Angeles

5:00-7:00 PM

3.5x

New York

5:15-7:15 PM

3.5x

Boston

4:30-6:30 PM

3.4x

Houston

5:00-7:00 PM

3.4x

San Francisco

2:00-4:00 PM

3.2x

Washington DC

3:00-5:00 PM

2.8x

Seattle

4:00-6:00 PM

2.7x

Detroit

5:15-7:15 PM

2.6x

Chicago

4:15-6:15 PM

2.4x

Source: INRIX
 

Lower gas prices fuel road trips; AAA to rescue more than 368,000

Gas prices have been fluctuating as of late, but are currently cheaper than the national average at this time last year, giving Americans a little extra money to spend on travel and motivating millions to take road trips. For the majority of Americans, AAA expects gas prices to be fairly similar to last year's Thanksgiving holiday, which averaged $2.57.

Meanwhile, more than 368,000 motorists will call AAA for assistance at the roadside this Thanksgiving holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. And remember to slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles at the roadside.

Travel tip for the friendly skies: Fly Monday before Thanksgiving

A recent analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that flying the Monday before the Thanksgiving travel rush is the best option for travelers. It has the lowest average ticket price ($486) prior to the holiday and is a lighter travel day than later in the week. Travelers can also save by traveling on Thanksgiving Day, which has the week’s lowest average price per ticket ($454).

Car rental costs peak, hotel prices mixed

Holiday road trippers should budget more for a rental car this year, which have reached their highest prices on record for the Thanksgiving holiday (since 1999), at $75 per day. Travelers will also pay a bit more at AAA Two Diamond hotels, where prices are 1% more than last year, or $125 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Three Diamond hotels has fallen 5% to an average nightly cost of $158.

Warm weather beckons this Thanksgiving

The theme parks of Orlando and southern California, and other warm-weather destinations will see an influx of travelers looking to escape the start of winter. Florida is home to four of the top 10 destinations, and Hawaii twice graces the list of top destinations in the U.S. this Thanksgiving, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Anaheim, California
  3. New York, New York
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada
  5. Honolulu, Hawaii
  6. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  7. Tampa, Florida
  8. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
  9. Phoenix, Arizona
  10. Miami, Florida

For those travelers planning an international vacation for Thanksgiving, sandy beaches are their destinations of choice. Nassau, Bahamas; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Montego Bay, Jamaica are AAA’s top international destinations this Thanksgiving, with Munich, Germany rounding out the top five.

AAA’s travel experts remind travelers that it’s not too late to begin planning a Thanksgiving getaway. Visit AAA.com/Travel for travel planning resources to book your trip today.

Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, Nov. 26 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using 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.

About AAA:

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 60 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services.  Operating 19 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and serves as an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  AAA Northern New England can be visited on the Internet at aaa.com  

About INRIX:

INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.