Home » AAA projects busy Thanksgiving holiday travel with highest number of people flying since 2005

AAA projects busy Thanksgiving holiday travel with highest number of people flying since 2005

AAA shared this year’s local projections on which roadways may have the most holiday travelers.

According to the experts, the Baltimore/Washington Parkway northbound will be the most congested roadway locally with 1.2 million people expected to drive out of the DMV this week.

Another 90,000 people are expected to fly, that’s about an 8% increase compared to last year at the local airports.

Holiday travel seems to start earlier each year, and this year is expected to be one of the busiest ever.

AAA is projecting that 4.7 million travelers will fly over Thanksgiving nationally. Another 49.1 million people will drive 50 miles or farther from home for Thanksgiving.

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That’s a 2.3% increase from last year. This marks the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.

For those flying, planes are expected to be packed — This will mark the highest number of people flying for Turkey Day since 2005, a 6.6% increase from last year.

The best day to go to the airport is Monday when flights will be 12% cheaper, according to Expedia.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it expects to screen 30 million passengers during its Thanksgiving travel period which starts Tuesday.

The busiest day on the roads is expected to be Wednesday. Drivers should leave home in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heaviest traffic.

The busiest and most expensive days to fly before Thanksgiving will be Tuesday, Nov. 21, and Wednesday, Nov. 22, according to AAA.

For Thanksgiving travel, AAA projects:

  • 49.1 million will drive 50 miles or farther
  • A 2.3% increase from last year.
  • The busiest day on the roads will be Wednesday, Nov. 22
  • 4.7 million will fly
  • Most since Thanksgiving 2005

The worst time to head back home will be Sunday, Nov. 26. Stay off the roads between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. that day. Experts say you want to get on the road before noon.

TSA has screened a record number of passengers this year and anticipates airport security checkpoints nationwide will be busier than ever this holiday travel season.

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The season kicks off with Thanksgiving travel, which begins Friday, Nov. 17, and concludes Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Historically, the three busiest travel days are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterward.

TSA is projecting to screen 2.6 million passengers on Tuesday, Nov. 21; 2.7 million passengers on Wednesday, Nov. 22 and 2.9 million passengers on Sunday, Nov. 26, which will likely be the busiest travel day.

“We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever. In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA’s history,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We are ready for the anticipated volumes and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure we are prepared for this busy holiday travel season. We will also do our best to maintain wait time standards of under 10 minutes for TSA PreCheck lanes and under 30 minutes for standard screening lanes. I am grateful for our dedicated employees who continue to remain vigilant and focused on the mission during this holiday travel season and beyond.”