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Expert view, Industry trends

Have Thanksgiving travel levels recovered?

November 15, 2022

An analysis of Thanksgiving travel trends.

Mike Malik, CMO, Cirium

Have Thanksgiving travel levels recovered?

By Mike Malik, Chief Marketing Officer at Cirium

It’s that time of year: eating Turkey, watching football, and traveling by air.

Thanksgiving is typically the busiest holiday season for US airlines. But as Diio by Cirium data shows, this year’s flight capacity won’t quite be back to what it was in 2019.

Surprisingly, US airlines currently (as of Nov. 8th) have fewer domestic flights scheduled for this year’s 9-day Thanksgiving travel period than they did even last year. Carriers, to be sure, are scheduling fewer flights than they’d like, hoping to avoid the operational distress they suffered earlier this year. Airlines will, however, offer more domestic seats this year than last, as they fly larger planes on average. In summary: fewer flights, more seats.

More Americans appear to be planning their turkey dinners abroad this holiday. While scheduled domestic flight departures are indeed down versus last year, international flights will be up 27%.

Still, by any measure, and whether domestic or international, Thanksgiving 2022 won’t be as busy as Thanksgiving 2019, at least in terms of capacity. We’ll find out soon enough how traffic develops this year.

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