Travel groups predict that traveling on winter vacation will return with revenge

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(CNN) – So you’re going to be home for Christmas? It seems that a lot of people say to their families “you can plan for me”.

New projections say travel for the winter holidays will be back soon.

The AAA estimates that more than 109 million Americans will travel during the long Christmas and New Year week – a figure approaching the pre-pandemic record of 119 million passengers from Christmas 2019.

AAA forecasts are from December 23 to January 2.

For the more than 100 million people the AAA predicts they will drive, gas prices are falling from highs around Thanksgiving. The national average fell to $ 3.30 on Tuesday, down from $ 3.41 a month ago.

The AAA said it believed gas prices were “unlikely to have a significant impact on the return of car travel,” and the U.S. Energy Information Administration said last week that it expected gas prices to fall below $ 3 a gallon on average in 2022.

At airports

The airlines are expected to carry 6.4 million passengers, the AAA said. This is about three times as much as last year, when the pandemic significantly reduced holiday travel.

Traffic Safety Administrator David Pekoske predicted on Monday that the Christmas rush would be busy, but that one of the busiest days on the road in 2021 had passed: Sunday after Thanksgiving. The Office of Transportation Safety said it had screened 2,451,300 people on 28 November. This was about 85% of the volume checked on the same day in 2019, before the pandemic.

Pekoske predicted that December 23 and January 3 would be the busiest days of the winter holiday season.

Sunday and Monday after Christmas will witness “the convergence of passengers returning home from Christmas trips and going on New Year’s holidays.”

United: Get ready for the rush

On Wednesday, November 24, 2021, passengers gather in the United Airlines check-in area at Los Angeles International Airport.

Jae C. Hong / AP

United Airlines said it is preparing for a holiday trip this month that will be even busier than the Thanksgiving rush that set a pandemic record.

The airline said it expects to carry an average of 420,000 passengers a day, compared to the 400,000 a day it carried around Thanksgiving. That’s about 8 million passengers during the holiday season, which United sets from December 16 to January 3.

The airline said it would make another 200 flights a day to handle the increased cargo.

United warn that Thursday before Christmas (December 23) will be one of the busiest days of the season.

The Hopper travel app also expects December 23 to be the busiest flight day, and CNN Travel said in an email that the best home destinations booked by their customers are New York City, Orlando and Los Angeles.

Under scrutiny of the upheaval

Airlines, meanwhile, are under scrutiny from Washington after planning disasters earlier this year, leaving masses of passengers stranded.

Airlines such as Spirit, Southwest and American have blamed factors, including weather problems and rising from pandemic lows.

The leaders of the country’s four largest carriers are due to testify before a Senate committee on Wednesday on how they have used more than $ 50 billion in federal aid to keep aviation employees at work.

The head of American Airlines is expected to tell lawmakers that the carrier is “aggressively hiring new employees” to prevent the recurrence of thousands of canceled flights this fall.

“The return on demand for air travel has been intense,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker wrote in a testimony presented to the Senate’s Trade, Science and Transportation Committee on Monday.

“Like other airlines, we have experienced several operational challenges in recent months that we have worked to handle as skillfully and with the utmost care of our customers and team members as possible,” said Parker.

Should I stay or should I go?

The skating rink in Bryant Park in New York is just one of the city's many attractions.  Some people may still be wondering if they should travel this season while they are still unknown.

The skating rink in Bryant Park in New York is just one of the city’s many attractions. Some people may still be wondering if they should travel this season while they are still unknown.

Christopher Occhicone / Bloomberg / Getty Images

While it is predicted that many people will continue, others may ask: What about Omicron?

The new variant, known as the “variant of concern” while traveling on Thanksgiving, adds another layer of uncertainty as people prepare for the December and January trips.

If you’re vaccinated, you shouldn’t have to change your vacation plans – even if Omicron is circulating in the United States, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said that whether to travel or not is a personal calculation.

“There are a lot of strangers, so I think it depends on people’s individual tolerance for risk. There will be some people who are okay with the stranger and who are generally healthy, fully vaccinated and not so worried,” said Wen, the emergency physician. and Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Milken Institute of George Washington University.

“But there are other people who may feel different because of their own health situation or risk factors.”

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