New York City, NY – November 22, 2023
As the United States gears up for the busiest travel period of the year, severe weather sweeping across the eastern half of the country is poised to disrupt the plans of over 55 million travelers expected to journey by bus, train, or plane before the Thanksgiving holiday.
The U.S. National Weather Service predicts thunderstorms spanning from the lower Mississippi Valley to the mid-Atlantic region between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, with snowfall anticipated in parts of New England. These weather conditions are likely to cause delays and additional congestion during what the AAA group anticipates to be the busiest travel period since 2019, predating the COVID-19 pandemic.
While most travelers are expected to hit the road, AAA reports a surge in the number of people driving, possibly influenced by a drop in gasoline prices since 2022. Approximately 49 million individuals are projected to be behind the wheel between November 22 and November 26, marking a 1.7% increase from the corresponding period in 2022.
The rebound in holiday travel is evident in AAA’s tracking, showcasing a full recovery since the pandemic disrupted the travel industry in 2020. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cautions that inclement weather could lead to delays at airports. As of Tuesday morning, FlightAware, a flight tracking website, indicated nine U.S. flights had been canceled, and 850 were delayed out of more than 48,000 estimated scheduled flights.
Airlines for America, an industry group, forecasts that U.S. airlines will carry a record-breaking 29.9 million passengers between November 17 and November 27. This indicates a growth of 9%, surpassing the 27.5 million passengers recorded in the corresponding period the previous year. It marks a significant upswing of 1.7 million passengers compared to levels observed before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a video address on the group’s website, spokesperson Rebecca Spicer emphasized the unprecedented nature of this Thanksgiving travel rush, urging all travelers to “pack your patience” as they navigate potential disruptions caused by the extreme weather conditions.