While some are getting the food and decorations ready for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, others are dealing with the frustration of flight delays and traffic getting to their destinations.
While Miami International Airport reported no cancellations Wednesday morning, over 160 flights were delayed. At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, six flights were canceled and over 85 flights were delayed.
The busiest travel days during Thanksgiving week are usually Tuesday, Wednesday and the Sunday after the holiday. This year, the Federal Aviation Administration expected Tuesday to be the busiest travel day with roughly 48,000 scheduled flights.
The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.6 million travelers on Monday, surpassing the 2.5 million screened the Monday before Thanksgiving in 2019. The same trend occurred Sunday, marking the first year that the number of people catching planes on Thanksgiving week surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
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AAA predicts that 54.6 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home in the U.S. this week, a 1.5% bump over Thanksgiving last year and only 2% less than in 2019. The auto club and insurance seller says nearly 49 million of those will travel by car, and 4.5 million will fly between Wednesday and Sunday.
U.S. airlines plan to operate 13% fewer flights this week than during Thanksgiving week in 2019. However, by using larger planes on average, the number of seats will drop only 2%, according to data from travel-researcher Cirium.
Airlines continue to blame flight disruptions on shortages of air traffic controllers, especially in Florida, a major holiday destination.
Controllers, who work for the Federal Aviation Administration, “get tested around the holidays. That seems to be when we have challenges,” Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle said a few days ago. “The FAA is adding another 10% to headcount, hopefully that's enough.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has disputed such claims, saying that the vast majority of delays and cancellations are caused by the airlines themselves.
TSA expects airports to be busier than last year and probably about on par with 2019. The busiest day in TSA's history came on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019, when nearly 2.9 million people were screened at airport checkpoints.