The United States is nearing a record high for air travel over the Thanksgiving weekend, just as travel across the U.S. hit a 30-year high. According to preliminary data, airlines carried more than 2.3 million passengers, a 1.6 percent increase over the same holiday last year. This Thanksgiving will be only the fourth time since 1979 that travel volume has eclipsed 2.3 million. In 1985, more than 2.5 million people were traveling in the U.S. on Thanksgiving.
This is far outpacing the average year, which sees 1.1 million passengers traveling this Thanksgiving. And on Sunday, the weeklong number of travelers reached 20.3 million. That means air travel is up 5.2 percent, which is about double the annual average increase. (Additional traveler surge has caused severe delays and cancellations at some airports and the TSA, which is struggling to keep up with demand.) As many as 8.6 million Americans will head out of the country to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family this year, and most are opting to fly rather than drive or take a train.