Thanksgiving travel this year some of the busiest on record

Millions take to roads, rails and air over 10 days of busy travel to make it home for the holiday

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Close to 55 million Americans are taking to planes, trains and automobiles as the country marks the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

The American Automobile Association (AAA), a privately held non-profit agency, projects this year's holiday travel period to be the third busiest since it began records in 2000.

“Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, said in a statement.

With more than 48,000 flights, Tuesday was the peak day for airline travel before Thanksgiving, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) reported.

A total of 45,721 flights are expected to take off on Wednesday, the day before the holiday.

The FAA said there are 46,790 flights scheduled on Sunday as people rush to return home before the work week begins.

The air travel sector is keeping an eye on how things develop after a rough summer saw high demand and many cancellations in the US and globally.

AAA also says travel this week will reach at least 96 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers, showing a return to normality for leisure travel following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With travel restrictions lifted and more people comfortable taking public transportation again, it’s no surprise buses, trains and cruises are coming back in a big way,” Ms Twidale said.

Amtrak, the country's national passenger rail service, has increased its number of available trains over the 10-day period around the holiday.

Families and friends traditionally gather and eat big meals, as well as watch American football or holiday movies on Thanksgiving, which commemorates the “first” meal shared by the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.

US President Joe Biden and his family joined the masses in holiday travel by decamping from Washington to the island Nantucket in Massachusetts on Tuesday, pardoning turkeys Chocolate and Chip before their departure.

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Updated: November 23, 2022, 8:11 PM