LOCAL NEWS

Christmas, New Year’s travel projected to near to pre-pandemic levels. Here’s what to expect

Dec 20, 2022, 10:45 AM | Updated: 3:03 pm
People wait to check bags at the American Airlines counter at Salt Lake City International Airport ...
People wait to check bags at the American Airlines counter at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on July 1. Airport officials are expecting crowds of up to 30,000 people every day ahead of and directly after Christmas Day this Sunday. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — About 113 million Americans are expected to travel either by car, plane or any other mode of transportation between the Christmas holiday weekend through the end of 2022 and into the beginning of 2023, according to a AAA travel outlook released last week.

The organization estimates that nearly 102 million, or 9 out of 10 people, will travel by personal vehicle among those who travel between Friday and Jan. 2, 2023. Another 7.7 million are expected to take to the skies, while the rest will either use rail, bus or cruise ship. Its estimates are based on projected travel of 50 miles or more during the 11-day span.

Combined, the numbers represent a projected 3.3% increase from a similar stretch in 2021, though the estimates would still remain 5.5% below 2019 figures. Airline travel (14%) and other forms of travel (23%) have the largest predicted increases, as both inch closer to travel figures from before the COVID-19 pandemic. The airlines’ expected 2.2% decline from 2019 is the closest to pre-pandemic levels of all the modes of transportation.

While it has the least amount of year-to-year growth, the AAA adds that more people are expected to drive this year than last year.

Some of that has to do with falling gas prices, which have now slipped below what prices were ahead of the holidays last year. For example, Utah’s average of $3.50 per gallon of regular gas is about a nickel below the average a year ago. The average on Monday is also $1.76 below the record-high peak of $5.26 per gallon in July, according to AAA data.

Executives from both the organization’s local and national offices say that timing of the holidays factors in this year’s travel outlook, too. Christmas and New Year’s Day each fall on Sundays this year, which means many companies are observing Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day on weekdays. Some post-pandemic trends are also emerging on top of the shortened final workweek of 2022, resulting in more travel time.

“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,” says Paula Twidale, the organization’s senior vice president of travel.

Salt Lake City airport prepares for busy Christmas travel

Salt Lake City International Airport officials said Monday that they expect up to 30,000 passengers apiece on Thursday, Friday and the Monday after Christmas Day, especially as airline travel returns to near pre-pandemic levels. Many more people are expected to meander through the airport’s concourses to reach connecting flights.

Officials advise people to plan ahead before flying out of the airport. Travel information website Upgraded Points recommends that travelers arrive at Salt Lake City International Airport about 2 hours and 17 minutes before their flight, based on their research on airport size, traffic volume and other factors.

Salt Lake City’s suggested arrival time is the 18th-earliest among the 50 airports the group analyzed; Chicago O’Hare International Airport (3 hours and 4 minutes) has the earliest recommendation, while John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, (1 hour) had the latest recommendation.

Salt Lake City airport officials also recommend that travelers:

  • Arrive 3 hours in advance for international flights.
  • Check their airlines’ websites or apps before leaving for the airport to make sure their flights are on time.
  • Check in online through airlines’ websites or apps before leaving for the airport to save time.
  • Reserve airport parking in advance. A number of parking options and rates are available. Otherwise, travelers can use Utah Transit Authority’s green line TRAX train, which stops outside the airport’s main concourse.
  • Review what the Transportation Security Administration allows to be packed in carry-on and checked luggage.

They also recommend that people use the airport’s Park and Wait lot while they wait to pick up passengers, only stopping at the curbside pickup when a passenger is ready to be picked up.

To welcome passengers departing and arriving on the holiday weekend, the airport has scheduled local musicians to perform in the terminal and concourses on Dec. 24 and the big man himself, Santa Claus, is scheduled to fly-in to take last minute wishes and spread holiday cheer.

 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Iron County Search and Rescue/Facebook)...
Eliza Pace

Location, car found after officials seek public input on a video from a missing man

A car of a missing man was found after hundreds responded to help identify the location of a video of a remote location.
14 hours ago
Terrie Ladwig, 28, who was found in her Concord, California apartment dead on Dec. 2, 1994. (Concor...
Pat Reavy

Utah truck driver arrested in California cold case from 1994

A truck driver in Utah was arrested last week in connection with the Northern California cold case killing of a woman in 1994.
14 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Tamara Vaifanua

Financial tips to prepare for having kids

Having kids can be exciting, but it requires a lot of financial planning. Here are some smart money moves for new and expecting parents.
14 hours ago
Unsheltered individuals seek warmth in the makeshift warming tent provided by advocates during bitt...
Ashley Fredde

County opens warming center after Salt Lake homeless advocates build unsanctioned tent

Temperatures became dangerously low across the state, making people without housing particularly vulnerable.
14 hours ago
(File) Police Lights responding to a scene....
Eliza Pace

Two employees dead at Northrop Grumman Magna facility

Two employees are dead at the Northrop Grumman facility.
14 hours ago
(CNN)...
Eliza Pace

Hawaii family safe after boulder crashes through home

A woman is safe after a very close call with a boulder crashing through her home in Honolulu.
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Christmas, New Year’s travel projected to near to pre-pandemic levels. Here’s what to expect