Thanksgiving travel sees passenger numbers at pre-pandemic levels

Thanksgiving has seen more than 53 million Americans crossing the country to be with their loved ones, as travel resumed to pre-pandemic levels on Wednesday.

Despite high gas prices, traffic jams, and costly airline tickets, this year is expected to have the highest single-year travel increase since 2005, according to AAA Travel.

According to AAA, there will be an estimated 13 per cent increase in travel for the US holiday compared to the same period last year. It is expected that 48.3 million people will be getting to their destinations via car, 4.2 million taking a plane and 1 million people going via bus, cruise or train.

FlightAware’s live-tracking map shows thousands of airborne planes on Thanksgiving day, especially over the east coast.

“This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of 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.”

<p>Flights over the US east coast on Thanksgiving</p>
Flights over the US east coast on Thanksgiving (FlightAware)
<p>Passengers wait for trains at Moynihan Station in New York on 24 November</p>
Passengers wait for trains at Moynihan Station in New York on 24 November (AFP via Getty Images)

Pandemic fatigue, missing loved ones, around 200 million Americans being fully vaccinated, plus borders reopening for vaccinated international travellers has increased confidence in travel. However, 17.2 per cent of people surveyed as part of a Destination Analysis poll said they had cancelled a Thanksgiving trip this year due to the pandemic. But trip cancellations are down from 31.7 per cent in 2020.

The same survey found that 53.8 per cent of Americans believe another Covid wave will hit. In the past week. there have been more than 670,000 new cases and 7,900 deaths as a result of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people should be vaccinated, and if you are not vaccinated you should take a Covid test before and after your trip. It also advises that masks are required on public transport across the US. Those who “have been exposed to Covid-19 unless you are fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in the past 90 days,” should not be travelling, states CDC advice.

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