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Air travel skyrockets as holiday months approach; airplane during takeoff

As Thanksgiving nears, The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that nearly 55 million Americans will be traveling for Thanksgiving this year, from Wednesday, November 23rd to Sunday, November 27th. This Thanksgiving is expected to be the third-busiest travel day on record. 2005 and 2019 have been the busiest years for travel because AAA has been tracking holiday travel since 2000. Wednesday, November 23, is going to have an unprecedented amount of travel through the country, as mass quantities of people are trying to travel for their Thanksgiving festivities.

Historically, Thanksgiving is the busiest time for road travel. Americans’ demand for travel has increased due to post-COVID regulations. Due to pilot shortages and increased service cuts, travelers have been forced to purchase more expensive airfare. Airlines are still working to find employees in all different areas of business. And regional airports have been hit the hardest, by this.

United Airlines has been dealing with shortages since 2019, as well. United Airlines pilots are still needing better pay – and are still competing for workers this holiday season. The major airline company says it expects it to serve 5.5 million passengers which is up 12% from last year. United will operate more than 3,700 flights each day from November 18 to 30. United believes that they will carry more passengers than in the 2019 pre-pandemic season. Sunday, November 27 will be the busiest day of travel since before the pandemic — with approximately 460,000 passengers traveling.

United Airlines’ full-time pilot, Erik Holtkamp, last flew on Thanksgiving twenty years ago. He flew was flying a 737 Boeing Airplane. On Thanksgiving, he says it is all based on seniority and that “98 to 100% of the company has flown on Thanksgiving.” Depending on what type of airplane is flown and the fleet, sometimes three to four legs are flown on Thanksgiving on a bigger plane to places like Europe or Africa.

Pilots’ Thanksgiving meal comes after their flight. He says that if he flew on Thanksgiving Day, he would prefer to fly in the morning and get home by 1 PM to eat the Turkey Day meal.