Photo Credit: Miguel Ángel Sanz / Unsplash
JFK International Airport in New York City on December 16, 2018

This week, Thanksgiving holiday travel is expected to surge to pre-pandemic 2019 levels in the United States, with a mind-blowing 53.4 million Americans expected to be on the roads, in the trains and on planes flying across the country.

That’s 13 percent more Americans traveling for the holiday than there were at the same time last year, according to the AAA.

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“This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, 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.”

Travelers should prepare for roads and airports to be noticeably more crowded, he said. As of November 8, the US opened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers.

“International travel re-opening will allow people to reconnect with friends and family and explore new places, while also giving a much-needed boost to the economy,” continued Twidale. “But it also means airports will be busier than we’ve seen, so travelers must plan for long lines and extra time for TSA checks.”

This year could see the highest single-year increase in Thanksgiving travelers since 2005, the AAA said. At least 90 percent of American travelers (48.3 million) are planning to hit the road.

Last Friday airlines saw their biggest volume since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the trend is likely to continue: the agency is expecting to screen some 20 million passengers this week – reaching around 80 percent of the 26 million travelers who took to the skies in 2019.


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The TSA said in a tweet earlier this week that some 93 percent of its personnel are now in compliance with the federal employee vaccine mandate and exemption requirements, adding that the mandate thus will not impact holiday travel.

On Tuesday, the TSA screened about 2.21 million US air passengers, the sixth consecutive day with checkpoint volume over 2 million.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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