Delays anticipated as 51 million Americans set to travel over Thanksgiving week 2017
The top 10 destinations, hotel and car rental costs, gas prices, worst times to travel, traffic hotspots, and more.
Almost 51 million Americans will load up the car, hop on a plane, take a train or catch a boat to either take a break or visit friends and family over the 2017 Thanksgiving week, according to current travel projections.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) released data this week which suggests 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home next weekend, a 3.3% increase over last year’s Thanksgiving travel figures.
If the estimates materialize, this would mean an additional 1.6 million travelers will be venturing across the country between November 20-26, resulting in the highest recorded Thanksgiving travel volume in 12 years.
Additional data pulled from AAA’s Thanksgiving Travel Forecast found the overwhelming majority (89%) of travelers are planning a Thanksgiving road trip. That’s 45.5 million Americans, up 3.2% on last year’s figures.
These trips are likely to be costly, as AAA estimates Thanksgiving gas prices to be the highest since 2014. The average national price of fuel this November is $2.54, which is 37 cents more expensive than this time last year.
Daily car rental costs have also surged this year due to increased demand, reaching a five-year high of $70/day.
A study carried out by Hertz found the busiest airport pick-up locations to rent a car this Thanksgiving are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Las Vegas (LAS) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The average rental length will be five days and the busiest pick-up day is expected to be Wednesday, November 22.
The research, developed by AAA and transport analytics company INRIX, predicts travel times in some of the country’s most congested cities during the holiday week could take up to three times as long as a regular trip.
Drivers are expected to experience the most severe congestion during the early evening hours, particularly on Tuesday November 21, where a heavy mix of commuters will clash with holiday travelers. For example, drivers taking to Chicago’s roads are expected to incur delays up to three times longer than regular conditions. Those visiting San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston may experience delays two and a half times optimal trip times.
AAA expects to carry out 330,000 road assists this Thanksgiving, owing to lockouts, flat tires and battery issues.
Worst times to travel Thanksgiving week 2017
|Metro area||Worst day for travel||Worst time for travel||Delay multiplier|
|Chicago, IL||Tuesday||5:00 – 6:00 PM||3x|
|San Francisco, CA||Tuesday||4:00 – 5:45 PM||2.5x|
|Los Angeles, CA||Tuesday||3:15 – 6:00 PM||2.5x|
|Boston, MA||Tuesday||5:15 – 7:15 PM||2.5x|
|New York, NY||Tuesday||5:30 – 6:30 PM||2x|
|Washington, DC||Tuesday||4:45 – 6:00 PM||2x|
|Seattle, WA||Tuesday||3:45 – 5:30 PM||2x|
|Atlanta, GA||Wednesday||3:00 – 5:15 PM||2x|
|Houston, TX||Wednesday||5:45 – 7:00 PM||1x|
|Detroit, MI||Tuesday||3:00 – 5:30 PM||1x|
Leading traffic hotspots in most congested US cities
|1||Los Angeles, CA||I-5 S at Valley View Ave|
|2||New York, NY||I-495 E at NY-106/NY-107|
|3||San Francisco, CA||I-80 E at Pinole Valley Rd|
|4||Atlanta, GA||I-75 N at Chastain Rd|
|5||Miami, FL||I-95 N at Congress Ave|
|6||Washington, DC||I-95 S at US-17/US-1|
|7||Dallas, TX||US-75 S at I-45/I-3|
|8||Boston, MA||I-90 W at I-84/US-20|
|9||Chicago, IL||I-90 W at I-190|
|10||Seattle, WA||I-405 S at WA-167|
The stats also revealed that the largest Thanksgiving travel growth sector is aviation. 3.95 million Americans will take to the skies next week, up 5% year-on-year, paying the cheapest average airfares since 2013. Airfares on the top 40 domestic routes average $157, down 23% year-on-year, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.
Worst travel times to the busiest US airports
|Metro area||Airport route||Worst time for travel||Travel time at peak|
|New York, NY||Downtown to JFK via Long Island Expressway East||Tuesday, 5:30 – 7:30 PM||1 hr 54 min|
|Chicago, IL||Downtown to ORD via Kennedy Expressway West||Tuesday, 4:30 – 5:30 PM||1 hr 14 min|
|Denver, CO||Downtown to DIA via I-70 E and Pena Blvd||Wednesday, 4:30 – 6:30 PM||52 min|
|Los Angeles, CA||Downtown to LAX via I-110 S||Tuesday, 4:30 – 6:30 PM||46 min|
|Dallas, TX||Downtown to DFW via TX-183 W||Wednesday, 8:00 – 9:00 AM||46 min|
|Las Vegas, NV||Downtown to LAS via I-15 S||Wednesday, 8:00 – 9:00 AM||45 min|
|San Francisco, CA||Downtown to SFO via US-101 S||Tuesday, 5:00 – 7:00 PM||29 min|
|Seattle, WA||Downtown to SEA via I-5 S||Tuesday, 3:00 – 5:00 PM||29 min|
|Charlotte, NC||Downtown to CLT via US-74 W||Wednesday, 1:00 – 3:00 PM||19 min|
|Atlanta, GA||Downtown to ALT via I-75 S||Wednesday, 5:00 – 7:00 PM||12 min|
There’s also other ways to get away. 1.5 million travelers will take a train, bus or cruise, up 1.1% on 2016.
The AAA also warns that hotel prices for AAA Three Diamond Rated properties have risen 14% year-over-year, averaging around $176 per night during the holiday weekend. However, the average rate for AAA Two Diamond Rated hotels has fallen to just $117 per night, down 5% on last year’s prices.
It seems travelers are opting for warm weather destinations this Thanksgiving, as Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California are the leading travel destinations, according to total bookings via AAA’s website.
Top 10 Thanksgiving destinations
|3||New York City, New York|
|5||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|6||Punta Cana, Dominican Republic|
|8||San Francisco, California|
|9||Kahului, Maui, Hawaii|
|10||Fort Lauderdale, Florida|
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping days of the year. For travelers, all the fuss is worth it, as high-price items like holiday packages and airfares get an unbelievably good price slash.
Heading away this Thanksgiving week? Find out everything you need to know about buying travel insurance.