Thanksgiving Travel Expected to Rebound Nearly to Pre-Pandemic Levels, AAA Says

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About 3.9 million Texans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA Texas.

This year’s travel projection is an increase of 12% from 2020 and about 6% less than 2019, according to AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. Of the 3.9 million Texans expected to travel, most will drive to their destinations this holiday and about 230,000 million travel by air.

“And now you’re seeing folks booking travel as far out as 2023,” Armbruster said. “I think there’s a lot of pent-up demand for travel. People are certainly excited to travel.”

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport officials announced Thursday, the airport is prepared to welcome more than 2.3 million people between Nov. 18 and Nov. 23. It marks an increase of 70% from the same period in 2020 and about 95% of the volume experienced in 2019.

Evangeline Acosta was flying from DFW Airport to El Paso on Thursday to spend Thanksgiving at home.

“That’s what I’m trying to do, avoid the crowds. Make sure I have the sanitizer, the masks, people around me wear a mask and stay safe,” Acosta said. “I love traveling. I’ve been traveling a lot.”

At Dallas Love Field, airport officials are also expecting a similar boost in demand compared to 2020.

“Somewhere between not quite 100 percent of what we did in 2019, but 95% and up,” spokesperson Chris Perry said. “Between originating, those who are booked to fly out of here in Love Field, and those who are transfer passengers, we’ll be averaging somewhere between 22,000 and 25,000 a day with a couple dips down there on Thanksgiving day and the day after.”

Recently, some airlines and their passengers experienced disruptions due to weather and staffing. In late October, American Airlines canceled nearly 2,000 flights over Halloween weekend with high concentrations of flight disruptions at DFW Airport. Southwest canceled well over 2,000 flights in early October after disruptions started with weather problems in Florida and were compounded by staffing shortages.

To prepare for the busy holiday season, a spokesperson for American Airlines shared a memo with NBC 5 Thursday. The airline said it has ensured November and December flight schedules are built to meet customer demand and that they are fully supportable by staffing. Regarding staffing, the airline is welcoming back many team members and “aggressively onboarding many new hires” as well.

Memo from American Airlines sent Nov. 5, 2021

Nearly 1,800 flight attendants have returned from leave in November and that’ll continue in December with 800 more, the airline said. American also expects to have more than 600 new hire flight attendants join the team by the end of December, along with 4,000 new team members.

Similarly, a spokesperson for Southwest said the airline previously reduced flight schedules in November and December to align with expected staffing. The company is also on track to hire approximately 5,000 new employees this fall and winter.

North Texan Steve Titensor's family typically travels out of town for Thanksgiving every other year. Titensor flew out of DFW Airport to Salt Lake City on Thursday for a family event.

“In fact, that’s why we’re flying back Monday and not staying all next week because knowing that the Thanksgiving traffic would be real bad,” Titensor said.

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