Four million Texans are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, according to AAA. That figure is 1% more than last year and just about 95% of pre-pandemic volumes.
Air travel is up nearly 6% from 2021 in Texas with more than 238,000 leisure travelers flying to their Thanksgiving destinations.
Taylor McField of McKinney began her Thanksgiving on Tuesday with her husband and two young girls. The family flew from DFW Airport to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to visit her son.
“I have to cook. I got to put these hands to work,” McField said.
Traveling with two young children can be a hassle, McField added. She was pleasantly surprised to find lines moving quickly at DFW Airport on Tuesday.
“When I have him [husband], I feel much better. I really do. When I have to do it alone, yes…it’s very stressful,” she said. “When I got my back up, I’m good.”
Cynthia Vega, a spokesperson for DFW Airport, said the airport expects about 2.6 million passengers during the Thanksgiving travel period. It began on Nov. 17 and stretches through Nov. 29.
“This is essentially a return (flat) to 2019 levels. The busiest day during this period will be Sunday, Nov. 27, when we will expect about 243,800 passengers,” Vega wrote in an email.
At Dallas Love Field, spokesperson Lauren Rounds said the airport expects nearly 400,000 passengers this Thanksgiving season.
Jeff Pelletier, Managing Director at Airline Data, Inc., said Thursday and Friday will be the height of the travel week at many airports. Airline Data, Inc. is based in Dallas and provides airports and airlines with aviation data, such as scheduling and operational information.
“We are definitely up when it comes to the availability of folks traveling in the industry right now,” Pelletier said.
He added, airlines have used their experiences from this past summer to “educate and correct themselves” this holiday season. Speaking with airline industry officials, Pelletier said they have ensured schedules are aligned with current staffing levels.
“This past summer, the airlines were a little aggressive in offering flights and markets. They’ve definitely toned that back a little bit and focused more on an operation,” he said. “They don’t like canceling flights more than we like being canceled on.”
Holly Gedwed and her husband Kenton flew to St. Louis with their family on Tuesday. They typically fly every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Most of the time, we try to take the earliest flight out. We did not do that today, because I had to work. But that’s what we usually, and it does help significantly,” Gedwed said.
Travel experts also recommend downloading the apps from the airlines so if there are delays or cancellations, passengers can rebook themselves.