Number of Holiday Travellers Expected to Surge over Christmas

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A high number of American holiday travellers are expected to descend on airports and roads over the Christmas period, with more predicted this year than 2022.

According to a recent forecast by Auto Club AAA, 115.2 million Americans will travel over 50 miles between December 23 and New Year’s Day.

The number is 2.2% more than what was predicted by the AAA last year.

AAA spokeswoman Aixa Diaz said, “That desire to get away is stronger than we have seen in a very long time.”

“People are willing to adjust their budgets in other areas of their life, but they want to keep traveling.”

However, the AAA predicts the holiday season will fall 3% short of 2019, which recorded record travel before COVID-19 hit the U.S.

The number of Christmas travelers going through airport checkpoints jumped 12.4% over last year and 1.4% higher than in the record year of 2019, the Transportation Security Administration reported.

Earlier this year, the Thanksgiving Day holiday travel peaked at 2.9 million, a single-day record for TSA.

Airlines are now bracing themselves for an unprecedented holiday season.

According to Airlines for America, a whopping 39 million people will board U.S. flights between December 20 and January 2.

Despite many Americans worrying about the economy, travel remains unaffected.

Some airline passengers are enjoying lower prices compared to last year.

The average fare in October 2023 was 13% lower than in 2022, according to government data.

The AAA also expects nearly 104 million Americans to drive over the holidays.

Further, motorists will be paying less to fill their cars, with the national average gasoline price at 3.19 at the end of last week, compared with $3.33 in 2022.

The highways will be busiest on Saturday, December 23, and Thursday, December 28, according to transportation data provider INRIX.

However, AAA’s Diaz notes that many Americans will be working across the holiday season, as many holiday travelers will join commuters on the roads, “so rush hour could still be bad,” she said.

“We always say leave as early as possible if you’re hitting the road or leave at night.”

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