ATLANTA — Nearly half of Americans plan to travel over the holidays this year, according to a new survey — meaning millions of travelers will be battling busy and congested roads and airports.
The 48% of Americans planning a trip for Thanksgiving or the year-end holidays is up significantly from 31% last year, according to the survey released Wednesday by consulting firm Deloitte.
Of those who are planning to travel over the holidays, more than 37% plan to fly, the survey results showed. Most are planning road trips.
Just 11% of people were deterred from travel because of concerns about health risks, down from 18% last year.
Instead, the top reason for people not to travel was money concerns, with 38% of those not taking a trip saying they cannot afford it.
The results are based on a survey of 5,281 Americans Sept. 12-25, of which 2,531 respondents had plans to travel for the holidays.
The rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic has driven shifts in travel patterns, with one-third of those who are going to travel saying they’re likely to work during long trips over the holidays.
Eileen Crowley, vice chair of U.S. transportation, hospitality and services at Deloitte, said “laptop luggers continue to leverage flexible work arrangements,” in a written statement. That allows them to extend their trips.
The large numbers of holiday travelers will bring heavy traffic to the highways and put a strain on the world’s busiest airport.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has already been packed with some long lines winding through the terminal in recent weeks, as the rebound in travel brings a near record number of passengers through security checkpoints on busy days.
Airport and security officials expect they could see record numbers of passengers passing through Transportation Security Administration screening during the busy Thanksgiving travel period, just three weeks away.
“Usually the Wednesday before and the Sunday after (Thanksgiving) are some of the two single heaviest days” for travel, said Robert Spinden, TSA’s federal security director in Atlanta.