The Thanksgiving travel season is expected to be the busiest yet.
“More passengers are flying this year than ever before, and there are fewer cancellations,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at a press conference Monday.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects 30 million passengers to pass through airport security checkpoints from Friday, Nov. 17 to Tuesday, Nov. 28.
The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the following Sunday are historically the busiest days for Thanksgiving travelers. TSA predicts Sunday, Nov. 26, could be its busiest day, with 2.9 million passengers expected.
“We expect this holiday season to be the busiest ever,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. press release last week. “We are ready to handle the anticipated volume and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to ensure we are prepared for this busy holiday travel season.”
Flight cancellation rates have fallen to 1.3% so far in 2023, according to preliminary Aviation System Performance Measures (ASPM) data shared by the Biden administration on Monday ahead of President Buttigieg’s press conference.
This is down from 2.3% in 2022 and is the lowest percentage of canceled flights since 2016, when cancellations fell to 1.2%.
Buttigieg touted the Federal Aviation Administration’s progress in hiring thousands of new air traffic controllers to address the ongoing air traffic controller shortage, and the government shutdown “threatens to reverse all of this progress.” he warned.
“There will certainly be further disruption to air travel,” Buttigieg said.
Congress last week averted a government shutdown ahead of the Nov. 17 deadline.
A government shutdown with less than a week until Thanksgiving could create a nightmare scenario for travelers. Tens of thousands of his TSA employees and federal air traffic controllers will be forced to work without pay until the government reopens, potentially leading to longer wait times and more delays and cancellations.
Buttigieg reminded travelers that if a flight is canceled or significantly delayed this holiday season, passengers are entitled to a full cash refund if they choose to do so without rebooking.
Since President Biden took office, the Department of Transportation has helped reimburse more than $2.5 billion to airlines, according to the transportation secretary.
“When airlines disappoint their passengers, we’re here to hold them accountable,” Buttigieg said.
Illegal acts by passengers, which have increased sharply due to the pandemic, are also decreasing.
According to FAA Security and Hazardous Materials Safety data, monthly reported passenger accidents reached 720 in March 2021, fell to 122 in February, and dropped to 228 in August. increased.
“I think we can all agree that that’s more than zero,” Buttigieg said, warning that harassing or assaulting air workers could result in fines and jail time for violators.
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