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The Best And Worst Days To Travel This Holiday Season

As Christmas and New Years get closer and closer, millions of Americans are gearing up and already preparing for their holiday commutes this year. Whether or not you already have a plane, train, or bus ticket purchased there’s always room to improve upon your travelling plans. Every year it seems as if more and more Americans decide to gear up and make the holiday commute to spend their days with family and friends. So when is the best time to actually hit the road and make your way to grandma’s house? 

Airlines for America (A4A) is an industry trade group for all major airlines and they recently released their reports for what to expect during holiday travel this year. The reports list all the best days during the holidays to make your commute, and when the worst time to travel is. Surprisingly, the data shows that Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve will be the lightest travel days this year. This means there’s likely to be much less foot and regular traffic amongst the roads and air terminals on these days. This data is compiled by using the results from the A4A reports of the past few holiday seasons. Most travelers are already at their destination by actual Christmas Day, however, if you can manage to hold off and wait, and are in a situation where you’re not going very far, definitely hold off if you’re dreading your commute this year. 

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The same logic goes towards New Years, by the actual eve of the day, most individuals are either already at their destination from Christmas, or are heading somewhere local for the day, so for the most part the roads and skies remain clear. However, “clear” during the holiday season, really just means that public transportation will look like it does on an average day more so than a holiday. A4A is predicting that a total of 47.5 million Americans will fly round trip this year during the 18 day holiday travel period. This period of time goes from Thursday, December 19th to Sunday January 5th, and those dates are again based on past data on holiday commuting. 

This is why planning ahead is so important. The reports also tell us that the worst days for travel this holiday season will be Friday, December 20th; Saturday, December 21; Friday, December 27; and Thursday, December 26. On these days as many as 2.6 million flyers are expected to take a plane ride to their holiday destinations. Compared to last year the reports tell us that’s a 3% increase in passengers! To convert that percentage, that means an additional 88,000 individuals will be flying on an additional 884 flights that airlines are cramming into the schedule every day. 

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“Throughout this year we’ve seen steady gains in air travel demand, and this winter will be no exception. Buoyed by a healthy economy and plentiful, affordable air service, travelers once again are expected to take to the skies in record numbers,” said Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich in a statement

In addition to the millions of passengers that will be passing through these airports this holiday season, U.S. airlines will also be transporting around 58,000 tons of cargo per day. That’s a lot of presents in Santa’s sack. 

Whenever you plan on making your commute, it’s likely that you will hit traffic (either in a car or on foot) of some sort, so make sure to plan. It’s recommended that if you’re taking a flight this holiday season to ensure that you have a ride to the airport that will get you there at least three hours before your departure time. This will ensure that you have enough time to get through security, no matter how long the line is, and might even have time to grab a snack for the plane. Additionally, if you’re flying, consider getting TSA precheck to skip heavy standard security lines. 

If you’re driving, and it’s on one of the days listed above as the worst day to travel, try to leave as early as possible. You can catch up on sleep once you get to your destination but the longer you wait to leave in the morning, the longer it’s likely to take to actually get there. Regardless, plan it out, pack the essentials, and take your time, Christmas will still be waiting for you once you get there so you might as well get there safely. 

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Thanksgiving Travel Expected To Be Highest on Record

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner many families and friends are planning breaks away to spend time with their loved ones and airlines are anticipating record breaking levels of travel despite the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

An announcement by Airlines for America (A4A) has predicted this year’s Thanksgiving holiday to not only be the busiest time of this year but also in US commercial aviation history.

A major player in American aviation services, A4A represent the nine biggest US cargo and passenger carriers and have claimed over 3.1 million passengers will be traveling on the Sunday after the holiday meaning 1 December could be breaking records across the country.

After analysing the holiday period, A4A have claimed between 31.6 and 55 million passengers will be traveling throughout the 12 day holiday period, an increase of 2.7 per cent over the same period last year.

It is also expected load factors are to be between 79% and 91% for the period, with the official holiday break confirmed as being between Friday 22 November and Tuesday 3 December.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are expecting the busiest days for travel being Wednesday 27 November and Sunday 1 December, with the actual Thanksgiving Day being the quietest time to travel. In fact in order to reduce security line times various U.S. airlines have increased their offerings with a further 850 flights – or 108,000 seats – added to the schedules each day.

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These increases have been predicted despite daily airline departures still being reduced significantly due to the grounding of the 737 Max in March this year following two fatal accidents. Currently 76 new aircraft have not been delivered as expected while 72 planes are still grounded meaning all airlines have had to put together new plans to keep up with demand, including retirements being delayed, holidays being postponed, schedules being restructured and maintenance being carried out where required.

John Heimlich, Vice President and Chief Economist of Airlines for America states, ‘airlines had to take greater measures to offset the Max issues.’

November and December are the busiest periods in the travel calendar however this year the daily departures are currently estimated to have a net reduction of 417 for November and 426 for December, which are higher than average. This is despite the increase over the holiday periods.

Clearly all airlines are keen to have the planes returning to active service with Mr Heimlich commenting on the long term effects the industry could suffer once they are in back in service:

‘It’s unlikely that the manufacturer will be able to deliver all those planes on day one. It will be phased in, and even at the airlines which have already taken delivery of Max aircraft, it will take some time to work them back in to the schedule. The market knows this is coming.’

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The additional aircraft, and therefore extra flights, will be in demand during 2020. Currently the U.S. has a strong economy thanks in part to the constant growth in employment leading to more disposable income. Add to this the consistently low fares as well as consumer confidence at an all time high and the continuing increases in gross domestic product.

According to Boeing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are expected to award certification within the next 6 weeks, however this does not mean there is a specific date for the aircraft to return to our skies.

A4A recently published their industry review and have stated that around $18.1 billion was spent upgrading the metal for all the fleet renewal, satisfying demand, however if the Max had not been grounded the investment would have been nearer $19 billion. According to Heimlich that extra billion dollars should be deferred to the 2020 budge.

Domestic travel has continued to grow throughout the United States with passenger traffic in the first nine months of 2019 seeing an increase of 4 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. An average of 26,100 flights took off from U.S. airports each day via both American and foreign airlines, an increase of 2.7% from last year. The number of seats filled also increased with an extra 3.16 million sold, an increase of 3.5%.

If this has put you off the idea of flying home for the holidays you could drive, however the roads are expected to see around 49.3 million travellers heading to their families. These figures are a 2.8% increase on last year and the largest figures since 2005.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts a peak of traffic on Wednesday as most travelers try to beat the holiday rush. Yet mixed with the every day commuters trips can be expected to take up to four times as long, so make sure you pack enough supplies to keep you fed and watered.

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What To Expect For Your Thanksgiving Commute This Year

As the holiday season is about to kick off next week with Thanksgiving, millions upon millions of Americans are gearing up for their first holiday travels of the season. If you’ve travelled for the holidays in the past, then you definitely know that planning is truly everything when it comes to the big commute. Whether you’re flying, driving, or taking the train, commuting during the holiday season can be tricky and stressful and this year is no different. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), there will be a record breaking number of travelers both on the road and in the air this year. 

The AAA reported that a total of 55.3 million people are expected to be travelling between Wednesday November 27th and Sunday December 1st, all via car, train, plane, and even a cruise ship. Compared to last years data that’s an increase of 1.6 million individuals on the road, in the air, and in the sea. 

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“With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays. Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX, a partner transportation analytics company of AAA.

According to their data the worst day and time to travel via car will be Wednesday afternoon. They predict any individual who begins their commute between the times of 5 to 8 pm can expect an additional 3 and a half hours to what their commute would be with no traffic! However, the data also suggested that severe traffic could begin as early as 1 pm in some areas of the U.S. such as Los Angeles or New York. 

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Air travel predictions estimate that up to 5 million Americans will be flying to get to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. The busiest day for air travel, however, will actually come after Thanksgiving day, as opposed to before like with ground transportation. Sunday December 1st is predicted to see 3.1 million passengers flying via U.S. airlines. The Monday before Thanksgiving is expected to be the lightest travel day for this holiday in particular, for any mode of transportation. 

The AAA suggests for individuals who still aren’t don’t planning their holiday commute this year, consider leaving on Thanksgiving day itself if possible. Not only are the roads predicted to be much less congested, but plane ticket prices will be the cheapest for the week. 

The data also showed that the top places that Americans will be travelling to this Thanksgiving are places with much warmer climates to escape the brutal winter that has already begun here in America. Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California are the top two destinations this year, and four out of the top 10 destinations in general are located in Florida, Disney World should be predicting massive traffic as always. 

Regardless of where and when you’re planning on travelling, just make sure you do have a plan and give your hosts a heads up of any delays you’ll be experiencing, and most importantly stay safe.

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What To Expect For Your Labor Day Weekend Commute

More than 30 million American’s are predicted to be travelling by car at least 50 miles each way for their extended weekend festivities. The motivation behind it all is a partly cloudy weekend with temperatures staying at a steady 80 degrees, the perfect way to say goodbye to summer.