Millions of Americans hit roads and boarded trains and planes on Wednesday on the country’s busiest travel day of the year in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) said 38.4 million Americans would travel for Thursday’s holiday, up from 37.8 million last year. But the rush was barely felt at airports where the Federal Aviation Authority reported only some major delays, as air travel dropped 7 per cent to 2.3 million passengers and there were few weather problems.
An estimated 33 million passengers were slated to travel by road, representing some 86 per cent of all travellers and up 1.4 per cent from last year. Some 2.9 million people will travel by train, watercraft, bus or a combination of transportation modes, AAA said.
The association said the slight increase in the number of Thanksgiving travellers from last year reflects improved consumer confidence as well as “a growing sense among many consumers that the worst of the global economic crisis is behind us.” Travellers are still concerned about the economy, said AAA spokesman Geoff Sundstrom, and the numbers remain well down from two years ago.
Sundstrom said the drop in air travel was expected since it’s “not a very friendly environment this decade for the airline industry or the airline traveller,” citing excess baggage fees and surcharges for jet fuel as well as delays and flight groundings.