The number of people traveling over the last week for the Thanksgiving holidays set a new pandemic record, statistics have confirmed. According to figures taken from a wide range of sources, such as the TSA’s security check records and data on car travel that the Automobile Association of America (AAA) analyzed, a new pandemic travel record was reached as last year’s Thanksgiving numbers were crushed.
However, whilst there is some cause for celebration, the number of people traveling still has some way to go when it comes to matching and beating the levels seen prior to the pandemic – and the spread of the Omicron variant around the world could well complicate travel for Americans in the future. Here’s a look at the statistics regarding Americans traveling for Thanksgiving, plus a reminder of the new restrictions the US has made and how they are likely to affect travel.
New Pandemic Record – Information For Travelers
When it comes to comparing travel statistics during the pandemic, 2021 has been a much better year for travel than 2020. Despite the spread of the Delta variant that threw summer travel plans into chaos, plenty of records were posted throughout this year that dwarfed similar days in 2020. The Fourth of July travel period saw more than 10 million travelers screened by the TSA, whilst this year’s Thanksgiving numbers have set yet another pandemic record for the US.
Sunday alone saw more than 2.5m air passengers screened by the TSA, the highest figure on record since February 15th, 2020 – when Covid-19 wasn’t yet labeled a pandemic and people were traveling freely. According to TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein, the ten dasy travel period that ended on Sunday saw as many as 20.9 million travelers flying – a figure that reaches 89% of the pre-pandemic levels.
Airlines were reporting that their parking lots were at full capacity – scenes that have been hard to come by throughout the pandemic – whilst airlines were boasting about their success once more. The period looks to have been particularly fruitful for American Airlines, who’s COO David Seymour claimed had flown 1,500 more flights a day than its major competitors.
On top of impressive air travel statistics, there were many more Americans electing to travel by car over the holiday. According to AAA Alabama Public Relations and Marketing Manager Clay Ingram, more than 53 million people traveled 50 miles or more across the country to celebrate Thanksgiving, a high figure that is just 5% below the amount of car travelers recorded during the Thanksgiving of 2019.
The rise in figures can be attributed to several factors. Whilst they have struggled with this issue in recent weeks, travel figures were boosted by airlines not issuing as many cancelations or delays. Many airlines issued incentives for staff to work throughout the holiday period, including double and even triple pay, meaning that staff shortages didn’t harm the travel statistics. Further explanations could be renewed confidence in travel due to high vaccination rates and a fall in cases.
Whilst travel numbers are expected to be high for the Christmas holiday period, one factor that could dent such hopes is the Omicron variant. Having already been detected in several countries, the US has temporarily banned flights from some southern African countries due to fears over the variant, whilst more bans could follow.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories