Holiday traffic rebounding to pre-pandemic levels — 90% by car

Thanksgiving Travel Will Rebound To Pre-Pandemic Levels: AAA

New York City’s roads and airports likely will be jam packed with holiday travelers. Here’s what to know if you’re leaving the city.

Matt Troutman,Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge

Posted Fri, Nov 12, 2021 at 10:27 am ETReply

Travel out of New York City this Thanksgiving could return to pre-pandemic levels, according to the AAA.
Travel out of New York City this Thanksgiving could return to pre-pandemic levels, according to the AAA. (Shutterstock)

NEW YORK CITY — Be thankful if you’re staying in New York City for Thanksgiving.

Travel for Thanksgiving is expected to rebound to near pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, according to the AAA. The iconic auto club projects 53.4 million people will travel for the holiday, within 5 percent of 2019’s level.

The surge in travel could particularly affect New York City, given its airports, large neighboring suburban areas and sky-high car rental prices.

“With borders now open and new health and safety guidelines in place, travel is high on the list of activities Americans want to pursue,” Robert Sinclair, Jr., spokesperson for AAA Northeast, said in a statement.

Most Americans who travel this Thanksgiving — 90 percent — will drive, according to the AAA.

And there’s bad news for New Yorkers looking to drive home this year. The city’s car rental rate is not good, to say the least.

“New York City has the highest rental car rates in the nation at $168 per day, six percent higher than last year,” a release from AAA states.

Gas prices are also expected to be 90 percent more expensive than last year, according to AAA.

Traffic is also expected to be heavy, especially Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving as holiday drivers merge with commuters. Anonymous GPS data indicates the eastbound Long Island Expressway between Borden Avenue and Little Neck Parkway will see a 482 percent traffic increase between 2:30 and 4:30 pm the day before the holiday, according to AAA.

“Drivers seeking a break could travel very early the morning of the holiday, which will see a lot less traffic, and more daylight due to the switch to standard time,” a release from AAA states.

Air travel is expected to be 80 percent higher this year than 2020, with 4.1 million people taking to the skies, according to AAA. Fares are also expected to be 26 percent cheaper between popular destinations.

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