Buckle up –- it’s going to be a busy holiday travel season.
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Around 25.3 million passengers are expected to hitch a ride on U.S. airlines during the 12-day travel period surrounding Thanksgiving -– the highest number since the Great Recession in 2008, according to airline industry trade group Airlines 4 America.
"I think there's also pent-up demand for people during the holidays that haven't gone the last few holidays, a few grandmothers out there wanting folks to come visit them for the holidays," said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com and an ABCNews.com columnist. "I'm not surprised we had demand."
That’s 1.4 to 2.7 million passengers clogging airports daily from Friday, Nov. 20 through Tuesday, Dec. 1.
This year’s projections mark an 800,000-person increase over last year’s estimated 24.5 million airline passengers, the group says, with an additional 65,000+ people boarding flights each day.
Carriers are adding seats to deal with the surge, A4A says.
Still, "it's going to be a zoo at the airports," Seaney warned. "Over the last three or four years, about 15 to 20 percent of flights during the Thanksgiving travel weekend have been delayed or cancelled. So be prepared for those potential eventualities!"
Of course, Turkey Day itself is likely to be the least headache-inducing day for travel. Thursday, Nov. 26 will see the fewest passengers, the group projects, while traffic on Sunday, Nov. 29 will be particularly busy.