More Than 109 Million Americans Expected to Travel for the Holidays, According to AAA
More than 109 million Americans are expected to travel for the holidays, according to AAA, despite the emergence of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The holiday travel boom represents a nearly 34% increase from 2020 and comes in at 92% of 2019 levels. The overwhelming majority of those set to travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 — more than 100 million — will opt for a road trip, while more than 6 million are expected to fly, and just under 3 million will travel by bus, train, or book a cruise.
"Americans who canceled their vacations in 2020 want to gather with family and friends for the holidays this year, although they will still be mindful of the pandemic and the new omicron variant," Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a statement. "With vaccines widely available, conditions are much different and many people feel a greater level of comfort with travel."
Travelers should expect crowded airports over the holidays with about 2.2 million passengers expected to fly each day, Hopper also shared with Travel + Leisure, representing about 85% of pre-pandemic levels. Domestic bookings for Christmas on the site are up 89% compared to 2020, and up 54% compared to 2019.
Dec. 23 will likely be the busiest day to pass through U.S. airports, followed by Jan. 2 (the Sunday after New Year's), and Jan. 3, according to Hopper. Atlanta is expected to see the most airport traffic, with Los Angeles and Denver rounding out the top 3 busiest airports for the holidays.
When it comes to a (much needed) vacation, Americans are prioritizing warm weather and fun with Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif. — both known for their theme parks — taking the two top spots, according to AAA. That was followed by Las Vegas, New York City, and Maui.
But flight prices are rising with demand. Currently, Hopper notes Christmas airfare is seeing an 8% increase for domestic flights compared to 2019, while international fares are seeing a 12% decrease compared to before the pandemic.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.