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More Americans expected at airports, on highways this holiday season



More Americans are expected to hit the road — or the sky — this holiday season as travel continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic lull.

AAA predicts 115.2 million travelers will trek 50 miles or more over the 10-day year-end holiday period. That includes an estimated 103.6 million by road, 7.5 million by air and 4.05 million via other transportation modes.

The total projection is the highest since 2019, when an estimated 119.3 million people traveled for the holidays, but AAA notes that airports are expected to be the busiest they’ve ever been during this year’s Christmas and New Year’s travel season.

“This year-end holiday forecast, with an additional 2.5 million travelers compared to last year, mirrors what AAA Travel has been observing throughout 2023,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a news release. “More Americans are investing in travel, despite the cost, to make memories with loved ones and experience new places.”

Dec. 23 and 28 are expected to be the most congested days on the road, according to transportation analysts at INRIX.

“Nationwide, drivers could see travel times up to 20 percent longer this holiday season. In major metros, especially in Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC, drivers could experience nearly double the typical delays,” Bob Pishue, an INRIX analyst, said in the AAA news release. “Avoid peak commuting hours and use traffic apps, local DOT notifications, and 511 services to minimize holiday travel traffic frustrations.”

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