Skip to Content

Record Number Of Americans Traveled Over Thanksgiving

Share The Article

Last Updated

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. 

thanksgiving sign

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. 

thanksgiving meal

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. 

snow take off

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.

thanksgiving parade

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. 

snow landing

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. 

Read More:

Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19 For 2021

10 Countries To Visit That Do Not Require A Vaccine Passport

Israel Bans Foreign Tourism Over New Variant Concerns

↓ Elevate Your Travel↓

Sign Up Now For Travel Off Path Premium! No ads, VIP Content, Personal Travel Concierge, Huge Savings, Daily Deals, Members Forum & More!


Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path's latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.

This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Tuesday 30th of November 2021

The variant narrative is bunk. Viruses mutate to become more infectious but less deadly. (They don't 'want' to kill their hosts - they 'want' to spread).

This is the same rehashed nonsense that they used for convid-19 and delta. Reminder: there are parts of the world living in pre-2020 normality (for well over a year now) without excess death. This alone proves that there is no "pandemic" anymore (if there ever was).

Shame on anyone still falling for this BS.


Tuesday 30th of November 2021

Pandemic travel records were being announced during the 4th of July weekend, only to be immediately followed up by the Delta variant announcement. Now, pandemic travel records for Thanksgiving, immediately followed up by the Omicron variant announcement. This is starting to look a little too coincidental. I’ve got money riding on a new variant being introduced right after Spring Break travel records are announced.