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By the numbers: Expect record-breaking travel for Thanksgiving

A Southwest Airlines plane in the sky
Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

More than 54 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, the highest volume since 2005, the American Automobile Association says in a new report.

Why it matters: 2.5 million more people are traveling than last year, and the roads will get the brunt of those Turkey Day travelers. For the nearly 90% of Americans driving to Turkey Day, INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be as much as four times longer than a normal trip — worse than last year.

What's new: Cities down south are becoming more popular the past few years for Thanksgiving travel destinations. Punta Cana, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami are all gaining popularity as holiday spots.

By the numbers: AAA predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of traffic congestion during Thanksgiving week from Wednesday through Sunday.

  • The majority of travelers — 48.5 million — will drive this Thanksgiving, a 5% bump from last year. Car rentals are in favor of drivers this year, too: averaging $63 a day, 10% less than last year, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.
  • Expect long security lines in airports across the country. More than 4.2 million people will fly to their destinations this year, a 5.4% increase over last year — a bigger jump than any other category of travel. Travelers who bought one to two months in advance paid an average of $478 roundtrip.

One layover thing: Airlines and airports are giving flyers more non-stop flights for the upcoming holiday season, The Wall Street Journal reports. For example, this winter opens up Saturday-only nonstops to Palm Springs from Newark and JFK from airlines like United and Alaska Airlines, respectively.

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