More Americans will be traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays this year than in 2022, according to the AAA 2023 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast, but the number will likely still fall short of pre-pandemic 2019 figures.
AAA predicts that 55.37 million Americans will travel the week surrounding Turkey Day, about 2.3% more than last year but 1.1% less than the 55.99 million in 2019.
Approximately 49.13 million Americans will be traveling by automobile, compared to 4.69 million by air and 1.55 million by other means, such as cruise ship, train, or bus.
The number of travelers driving to their destination is up slightly from last year when gasoline prices averaged $3.58 per gallon. The current average price nationwide is $3.36 per gallon, and the average for Texas gasoline outlets is $2.80. In Dallas, the average price of gasoline as of November 18 is $2.876.
Wednesday, November 22, the day before Thanksgiving, is expected to be the heaviest traffic day on the roads, with average travel times as much as 80% longer than normal in some metropolitan areas.
“Travelers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major metros,” Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst at INRIX, told AAA. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help minimize holiday traffic frustrations. We advise drivers to use traffic apps, local DOT notifications, and 511 services for real-time updates.”
More people will be flying this Thanksgiving season, 6.6% more than last year and 2.5% more than in 2019. Airlines are anticipating the highest number of air passengers for the November holiday since 2005.
The busiest air travel days nationwide will be the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, while the Sunday and Monday following the holiday are the most popular days for return flights. AAA recommends staying clear of these days to avoid the crowded airports and increased cost of flights. Flights on Monday, November 20, will be 12% cheaper than flights on November 22, according to Expedia.
The same concept holds true at the two Dallas airports. The busiest day for travel at Dallas Love Field is Wednesday, November 22. There are 440 flights scheduled for that day. At DFW International Airport, the busiest Thanksgiving period travel date is November 26, with 1,993 flights scheduled.