Air travel to the United States for Thanksgiving is expected to be the busiest since the start of the pandemic

CHICAGO, Nov. 24 (Reuters) – United States flights and airports are having one of their busiest days since before the pandemic on Wednesday as millions take to the plane to visit their families for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Anticipating higher demand, US carriers are operating at their highest capacity on Wednesday since the start of the holiday travel season, according to data from Cirium.

Thanksgiving marks the start of what is shaping up to be the busiest holiday season in two years. Rising COVID-19 vaccination rates have made people more confident about travel, leading to an increase in bookings.

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U.S. consumers are entering the holiday season with full purchasing power too, thanks to a heap of still sizable savings from several rounds of pandemic government reliefs and now double-digit one-year pay increases. on the other as companies compete for scarce workers. (For a graph on food and accommodation service spending, click: https://tmsnrt.rs/3CLC7m9)

Data released on Wednesday showed aggregate consumer spending rose 1.3% more than expected in October. Spending on big-ticket items like automobiles pushed the overall figure up, but data also showed a widespread increase in spending on services like travel and restaurants that had been sharply cut during much of the COVID pandemic. -19. (For a graph on leisure spending, click: https://tmsnrt.rs/3DPgHWx)

Americans shelled out record amounts for recreation, dining, trips away from home and travel abroad last month. (For a graph on overseas travel expenses, click: https://tmsnrt.rs/2ZiM7pi)

INCREASE STAFF

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) plans to screen about 20 million air passengers during the Thanksgiving travel period, the highest number since 2019, when nearly 26 million Americans were on the move at that time. The TSA screened approximately 2.21 million U.S. air passengers on Tuesday, the sixth day in a row with a checkpoint volume exceeding 2 million.

The rush for travel has resulted in scenes of long security lines at some airports. Victoria Spilabotte, chief information officer at Los Angeles International Airport, said passengers should arrive early to allow more time for security.

TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers said the agency hired 6,000 new agents this year and was well-staffed to cope with the increased passenger numbers.

“So staffing, while we’re hiring, won’t slow people down this holiday season,” Dankers said.

The holiday weekend is also a test for carriers after a wave of flight cancellations that marred travel over the summer. One in five Americans is concerned about delays and cancellations, according to a U.S. Pecans / YouGov survey.

The carriers increased their workforce and offered bonuses and other incentives to employees.

“We have staff and are ready to get our customers where they need to go safely, reliably and pleasantly,” said a spokesperson for Delta Air Lines (DAL.N).

The expected calm weather for Thanksgiving should also help avoid disruption. There were 244 flight delays and just 12 cancellations on Wednesday, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Some Los Angeles airport passengers said the airport was not as busy as they had expected.

“So far, everything is fine,” said Lani Emanuel, who is traveling to Seattle to see her daughter. “It was a bit difficult to find parking, but it doesn’t seem too busy yet.”

The American railroad Amtrak also expects an increase in passenger volumes. A company spokesperson said some trains were already near full capacity.

Travel group AAA estimates that a total of 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020, with air travel falling to about 91% of pre-pandemic levels.

The biggest concern this holiday season says is the high price of fuel, according to the YouGov survey.

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Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; additional reporting by Dan Burns, David Shepardson, Alan Devall and Omar Younis; Editing by Stephen Coates, Barbara Lewis, Mark Porter and Aurora Ellis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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