Thanksgiving Transportation by the Numbers

Thanksgiving Transportation by the Numbers

Are you planning on traveling to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones? If so, knowing what to expect so you can plan accordingly is highly recommended. After all, the Thanksgiving holiday period is the busiest travel season in the United States, with the number of travelers far exceeding the height of the summer travel season. Let’s take a look at Thanksgiving transportation by the numbers!

Thanksgiving Transportation by the Numbers

Whether you’re transit plans involve taking to the skies or hitting the streets, it’s pretty much guaranteed that your holiday travel plans are going to be hectic. While sharing good cheer and making memories to last a lifetime with loved ones over turkey and pumpkin pie is certainly worthwhile, Thanksgiving is infamous for gridlock – on the roads and rails, and certainly in the skies.

That said, to make things a bit less stressful, you can use the following Thanksgiving transportation-related information so that you can plan accordingly and (hopefully) avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic and long lines.

Things to Keep in Mind

Before we dive into the numbers, there are some key things to keep in mind.

With uncertainty surrounding gas prices and pilot shortages, airfare is more expensive than in prior years. Though airline prices are expected to hold steady, gas prices are forecasted to be around $3.60 a gallon for regular-unleaded fuel during the final quarter of the year. With such high prices, traveling by car can still be quite expensive depending on where you are traveling to.

Keep these things in mind as you are planning your Thanksgiving holiday travel this year.

Thanksgiving Travel Numbers

Experts predict that travel for Thanksgiving in 2022 will be similar to 2019 Thanksgiving travel, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, we’re going to use 2019 data to provide a snapshot of what to expect when traveling for Thanksgiving this year.


In 2019, approximately 26.8 million Americans took to the skies during the week of Thanksgiving. As usual, the Wednesday before and the Sunday after the holiday are projected to be the busiest for airlines.


Millions of Americans hit the roads in 2019. The same is anticipated this year; however, travelers’ may not be traveling as far as usual, largely due to soaring gas prices.


Nearly 847,000 people traveled by rail over Thanksgiving week in 2019. It is estimated that those numbers will be similar or higher in 2022. Like everything else, Amtrak ticket prices have increased, due to inflation. However, rail travel is certainly more affordable than air travel, and depending on how far you’re going, it may be more affordable than car travel, too.

Additional Information: Turkey Sector: Background & Statistics – USDA

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