Airlines Transportation

Sunday After Thanksgiving Will Be Busiest Travel Day

The busiest travel day of the year in the U.S. will be Sunday, November 26, 2023, according to a recent analysis by aviation analytics firm Cirium.

More than 3,000,000 seats and 22,000 flights will be flown domestically in the U.S. on that date, higher than peak travel days in summer 2023. The major U.S. carriers will fly 7% more seats during the Wednesday-Sunday of Thanksgiving week in 2023 compared to 2022. The data is sourced from Cirium’s Diio Mi Schedules System, widely used in aviation to analyze airline schedules for more than 1,300 airlines worldwide.

International travel figures also show strong growth during Thanksgiving week 2023 compared to 2022. Travel from the U.S. to Caribbean resort destinations by all carriers will increase by 14% on seats flown this Thanksgiving compared to last. Similarly, travel from the U.S. to Europe shows 12% more available seats flown.

In addition, recent third-party media reporting indicated weakness in bookings, with lower average prospective fares than in Q4 2022. Cirium’s historical fare data indicates that U.S. domestic airfares has been stable in 2023, with a peak average fare of $188 in August 2023, and the lowest average fare being $176 in March 2023.

In the U.S. domestic market, Cirium analysis of airfares for 2023, to-date, showed the average airfare for U.S. economy tickets was $182, one-way, non-directionally, not including taxes and fees. This compares to an average fare of $159 in 2022 for the same period. Accordingly, airfares are up 14% year over year.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced that more than 8.5 million travelers are expected to use its metro NY airports and vehicular crossings during an extended 8-day peak travel period beginning Monday, Nov. 20, to Monday, Nov. 27. The Port Authority expects to serve the most Thanksgiving air travelers and motorists ever due to the proliferation of flexible and remote work arrangements helping to elongate the travel period.

The agency estimates that approximately 5.4 million vehicles will use its bridges and tunnels over the 8-day period, which would be similar to vehicular volume over the same eight days in pre-pandemic in 2019. To accommodate anticipated significant vehicular volume, all lane closures for non-emergency construction at its crossings are suspended now through 5 a.m. Monday, Nov. 27.

During the same period, nearly 3.1 million air passengers are expected to use the agency’s airports. The total would top the previous Thanksgiving travel record set in 2022, when just under 3 million air travelers used Port Authority’s airports. Demand for international travel is expected to be robust, with a 12 percent increase in seat capacity across the agency’s major airports compared to last year’s Thanksgiving travel period.