Nov 18, 2022 - News

Buckle up for travel season

Two people sit inside the airport with plans in the background.

Photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Thanksgiving travel is expected to see nearly 55 million Americans traveling from beginning to the end of the holiday weekend, per AAA predictions.

Why it matters: The projections mirror pre-pandemic travel trends, suggesting Americans are eager to return to "normal."

  • Be smart: If you're traveling this Thanksgiving, give yourself ample time to get to and through the airport.

Driving the news: At San Francisco International Airport, 5 million travelers are expected between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, SFO Public Information Officer Doug Yakel told Axios.

  • That projection represents the highest passenger traffic levels since the start of the pandemic.
  • About 140,000 people are expected to pass through SFO today alone, per the airport.
  • Passengers are "strongly encouraged" to arrive at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours ahead of international flights, per an SFO press release.

Between the lines: SFO had the second-highest passenger satisfaction score among North American airports with 33 million+ passengers annually, per J.D. Power.

  • Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal ranked SFO the best large airport this year, in part because it "tries hard to make travelers forget they're in an airport."

Zoom out: AAA predicts 54.6 million people will venture 50 miles or more from their homes over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend — a 1.5% increase over 2021, Axios' Herb Scribner reports.

  • The holiday weekend is from Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.
  • This will be the third-busiest Thanksgiving travel season since AAA started tracking numbers in 2000.
  • 2005 and 2019 were the busiest years for Thanksgiving travel, according to AAA.
  • Most travelers (about 49 million) are expected to drive to their holiday destinations. Thanksgiving road trips are up 0.4% from last year but are still 2.5% below pre-pandemic levels, AAA reports.

Of note: If you're feeling stressed out while at SFO, be on the lookout for the Wag Brigade, "the unicorns of therapy animals," to provide you with emotional comfort.

  • And if you need to park at the airport, be sure to book your spot in advance here.

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