Travel Trends

Airlines for America Forecasts All-Time High for 2018 Thanksgiving Air Travel

U.S. airlines are prepared to accommodate an expected 30.6 million passengers over the 12-day holiday travel period

Airlines for America

Airlines for America (A4A) today projected that a record 30.6 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines during the 12-day Thanksgiving air travel period, up from an estimated 29 million passengers during the 2017 travel period. The forecast translates to an estimated 2.55 million passengers per day, up 137,000 per day from a year ago. Airlines are accommodating this increase in demand by adding 158,000 more seats in the marketplace each day, with a total of 2.94 million seats available to flyers every day.

The 2018 Thanksgiving air travel period runs from Friday, Nov. 16, through Tuesday, Nov. 27, with the busiest day projected to be Sunday, Nov. 25, when an estimated 3.06 million passengers will take to the skies.

"The busy holiday travel season kicks off this week, and it is thanks to incredibly accessible and affordable flight options that more travelers than ever before are visiting loved ones, wrapping up year-end business or enjoying a vacation this Thanksgiving," said A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich. "U.S. airlines are investing heavily in their employees, products and facilities to make air travel this holiday season enjoyable for all passengers."

Daily passenger volumes are projected to range from 1.73 million — on Thanksgiving Day itself — to 3.06 million on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. The busiest expected travel days in ranked order are:

  • Sunday, Nov. 25
  • Wednesday, Nov. 21
  • Friday, Nov. 16

The lightest travel day is expected to be Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 22.



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