Domestic air travelers are expecting to spend fewer days around this year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, with airfares and expected travel hours on the rise this year.
Nationally, Thanksgiving travel in 2020 is projected to be 4.0 percent lower than in 2018, according to Airlines for America, the industry group that represents most of the major airlines. There will be only 29.1 million Thanksgiving travelers, compared with 30.1 million in 2018.
In the East, Thanksgiving travel is expected to grow by more than 9 percent in 2020, compared with last year, to 4.5 million travelers, according to the association. Travel time is projected to rise as well. If 2018’s estimated 34.1 hours of Thanksgiving travel is any indication, that could mean shorter family gatherings.
Eastern U.S. travelers also are expected to shell out an average of $331 on Thanksgiving fares, a 24 percent increase from last year, according to the trade group. (The group also forecast $115 billion in total Thanksgiving travel spending, with $96 billion being paid for air travel.)
“Most travel trends are positive in general, but we continue to see pressure on capacity growth,” John Heimlich, chief economist for Airlines for America, said in a statement. “When we look back, airlines were left with stranded holiday passengers because they did not add seats at the right time.”