The holiday travel rush arrives this week as air travel is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels this year.
Peak travel days begin this week on Dec. 23 and will remain until after the new year on Jan. 2.
From Christmas until New Year’s, officials say almost 215,000 travelers will make their way through Los Angeles International Airport.
AAA expects 2022 to be the third busiest year for U.S. holiday travel since the company began tracking in 2000 and the second busiest year for the state of California.
Nearly 113 million people will be traveling 50 miles or more away from home this holiday season, nearing pre-pandemic levels, according to AAA.
“This year, travel time will be extended due to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays,” explains Paula Twidale, AAA’s Senior Vice President of Travel. “With hybrid work schedules, we are seeing more people take long weekends to travel because they can work remotely at their destination and be more flexible with the days they depart and return.”
Around 102 million Americans will be driving to their holiday gatherings in 2022 compared to 108 million in 2019.
Air travel is expected to rise by 14 percent over 2021 with around 7.2 million Americans flying, nearly reaching 2019’s reported 7.3 million, according to AAA.
Journeying by bus, train and cruise ship is expected to jump by 23 percent, hitting nearly 94 percent of 2019’s volume.
“If the distance is not reasonable to drive, more people are taking to the air to maximize the time spent at their destination,” said Twidale. “Conversely, if the travel distances are reasonable and more than one or two people in the household are taking the trip, it may be more cost-effective to drive rather than buy multiple air tickets, rent a car, and spend too much money before the fun even begins.”
Some tips to avoid the holiday rush if you’re flying include:
- Allowing extra time to arrive at the airport
- For domestic flights, arrive at the airport at least two hours beforehand
- For international flights, arrive at the airport at least three hours beforehand
- Prepay for airport parking in advance
- Check-in for your flight online before arriving
- Check your flight status before heading to the airport
Those hitting the road should avoid driving during peak times, which AAA says can vary anytime between 12 p.m to 7 p.m. depending on the day.