Last-minute travelers who are flying on Thanksgiving Eve will likely see crowds that’ll make them wonder if they’ve chosen the right time to leave.
Nearly all travel experts agree that the night before Thanksgiving isn’t the ideal time to fly. This includes the American Automobile Association (AAA), which published an updated travel forecast for the holiday.
"Even with air travel seeing a boost this year, AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 27.3% less than last year coming in at $132," the auto association wrote. "Tuesday and Wednesday are still the most expensive and heaviest travel days with Monday being the lightest and least expensive."
If you’re looking to snag the best deal possible, the experts at AAA do not recommend purchasing plane tickets days before your Thanksgiving break.
"Those wanting to book last-minute travel will find the best fares about two weeks prior to Thanksgiving but keep in mind availability may be limited," AAA wrote in its report.
The auto association partnered with INRIX – a location-based analytics company that monitors motor vehicle movement, to come up with its Thanksgiving travel forecast.
Utilizing existing traffic data from INRIX, the two organizations predict that 53.4 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving this year. Roughly 4.2 million of those travelers will board flights across the country.
Last year, only 2.3 million Americans took to the skies to see loved ones at the height of COVID-19, which wasn’t far off from AAA’s 2020 Thanksgiving forecast (2.4 million) for air travel.
If AAA’s forecast for 2021 ends up being correct, that’d be an 80% increase year-over-year for Thanksgiving flyers.
"This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year," said Paula Twidale, the senior vice president of AAA Travel. "Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holiday."
Thanksgiving travelers who have yet to reach their target destination are being urged to leave earlier than they originally planned due to increased road traffic and longer security checkpoint lines at airports.
"Travelers should arrive at the airport three to four hours in advance," Dr. Terika L. Haynes, the CEO and founder at Dynamite Travel told Fox News, in a previous travel guide. "They should also pack snacks in case there is a long wait at restaurants due to reduced staffing and high volumes of travelers."