Texans’ year-end travel expected to increase by 32% over 2020

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:21 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Travel experts anticipate even more travelers to drive, fly and cruise away from home this holiday season.

The American Automobile Association forecasts 32 percent more Texans will travel 50 miles or more to their destination, compared to 2020.

“It’s the end of the year and we’ve been in a pandemic for the last 18 months,” AAA’s Daniel Armbruster said. “There’s a lot of demand and pent up demand for travel. Even with the uncertainty of the Omicron variant, right now, it looks to be like we’re going to be close to pre pandemic levels for the Christmas and year-end holidays. So, 8.3 million Texans will be driving, 94 percent of all of those that will be traveling 50 miles or more for leisure. The total of that is 8.8 million, a 32 percent increase over 2020. That’s still about 8 percent shy of the 2019 figures.”

AAA’s forecast is for Dec. 23 through Jan. 2.

“At this point, the forecast has not changed,” Armbruster said. “It should be noted that certainly there could be some fluctuation just because of the unknown surrounding Omicron. Certainly, some folks may decide last minute not to travel. Others may say, ‘Hey, you know what? Our family’s vaccinated, we’re going to wear masks, and we’re going to do everything right and we will travel.’ It’s going to be a personal choice for each individual. But, there could be a little bit of fluctuation, although right now looking at bookings, looking at the airports, looking at the roadways, it looks like it’s going to be a very busy holiday weekend.”

Air travel is expected to have about a 180 percent increase over 2020. The Transportation Security Administration has already screened around 2 million people over the past week.

“During the Thanksgiving holiday, TSA screened over 20 million people, and for the Christmas holidays, we’re expecting about 31 million,” TSA’s Patricia Mancha said. “That’s for a period going from December 17 to about January 2. The one thing for people to remember is arrive early.”

The federal mask mandate continues to be in effect, which Mancha says requires a mask over your nose and mouth. A shield alone is not in compliance.

“People are happy,” Mancha said. “They want to go out. They want to see family. We understand that but we just really want people to understand that we all have a personal responsibility in keeping ourselves and each other safe. If you’re ill, don’t travel. If you’re going to the airport, be organized. Have your documents, your ticket, your photo issued ID ready to go.”

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