Tips on navigating the holiday travel chaos

Travel over Thanksgiving is expected to reach nearly 98% of pre-pandemic volume, which could mean massive crowds, as well as flight cancelations and delays, according to AAA. Brian Kelly, also known as The Points Guy, has some tips on how to navigate all the travel chaos and when to get the best deals on air tickets:

Air Travel in the Face of 2022 Holiday Season

  • Major airlines have already cut their November and December flight schedules in anticipation of the holiday travel season.
  • Airlines have had six months to put together hiring plans and address operational issues by adding more slack to their networks since the summer chaos. But pulling off holiday flying schedules typically relies on airline employees picking up extra hours and trips, often with high bonuses attached.
  • Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 24, earlier than usual, so the holiday period is longer, which could put a strain on airline crews, requiring more hours worked in total than usual.
  • Airline CEOs argue the longer holiday period will prevent airline and airport chaos – travel will be busy throughout the week rather than primarily the day before and after.

Thanksgiving Travel by the Numbers - (AAA)

  • Travel over Thanksgiving is expected to reach nearly 98% of pre-pandemic volume.
  • 54.6 million people are expected to travel over the holiday period, a 1.5% increase from 2021.
  • Thanksgiving is expected to be the 3rd busiest since 2000.
  • Most travelers will drive, nearly 49 million people – up 0.4% from last year.
  • More than 1.4 million travelers are expected to travel by bus, train or cruise during the Thanksgiving holiday period – 96% of 2019 volume.
  • The number of Americans expected to travel by air is up nearly 8% over 2021.
  • The 4.5 million of Americans flying from Wednesday to Sunday is nearly 99% of the 2019 volume.
  • Though airfare is 34% higher than last year, it has fallen back down the last week, consistent to pre-pandemic prices.

Thanksgiving Prices

  • Although domestic Thanksgiving airfare is similar to what it was in 2019, experts don’t expect that to be the case for all tickets.
  • Airfare will remain high, but volatile, fluctuating in the coming week, ultimately rising drastically.
  • Furthermore, the price of airfare will change dramatically based on when you plan to fly and where.
  • In November, holiday airfare tickets are jumping as much as $10 per day. To avoid the highest prices, keep the ‘21 days out’ rule in mind.
  • Hotel prices for Thanksgiving are up 13% over last year.
  • Airfare: $271 (domestic), $795 (international).
  • Hotel: $189 per night.
  • Cars: $60 per day.
  • So far, the most booked domestic destinations for Thanksgiving include New York City, Orlando and Los Angeles.
  • The most booked international destinations for Thanksgiving are Dublin, Cancun and Doha.

Holiday Travel - Christmas

  • This year, Christmas prices are trending far above Thanksgiving levels.
  • Domestic Christmas fares are 40% above 2021 levels.
  • International Christmas flights have increased $1,300 per ticket this year, 26% over 2019.
  • Hotel prices for Christmas are up 32% over last year.
  • So far, the most booked domestic Christmas destinations are NYC, L.A. and Seattle.
  • The most booked international destinations include Mexico City, Manila, Philippines and Guadalajara, Mexico.