AAA forecasts 1.7 million Michiganders to travel for Thanksgiving holiday

Among its expectations, the auto association projects air travel will soar to record numbers for the November holiday.

A Southwest Airlines jet takes off from Detroit Metro airport.

AAA expects more than 1.7 million Michiganders will take a trip of at least 50 miles over the extended Thanksgiving holiday. That figure — which combines automobiles, planes, and other forms of transit — is up by about 2.5% percent from last year.

It also marks the third straight year travel numbers for the November holiday have increased coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, AAA spokesperson Adrienne Woodland explains.

Listen: What AAA forecasts for Thanksgiving holiday travel.

“And that’s also the third highest Thanksgiving travel forecast,” said Woodland, “just behind 2005 and 2019 respectively.”

As folks go out of town, the commute from Detroit to Grand Rapids on I-96 westbound could be particularly busy. AAA thinks that drive might take more than three hours — a 35% increase over the usual duration.

“Air travel in Michigan is actually set to make a record.” — Adrienne Woodland, AAA Michigan

Woodland says while the number of Thanksgiving road trips in Michigan are near pre-pandemic record levels, hopping on a flight is more popular than it’s ever been. She says nearly 180,000 state residents will be traveling out of airports this week.

“Air travel in Michigan is actually set to make a record,” Woodland said, “the highest number ever expected to travel for Thanksgiving since AAA began compiling these numbers back in 2000.”

For the 1.5 million Michiganders sticking to roadways this holiday, Woodland said gas prices in the state are currently at $3.27 per gallon for regular unleaded fuel. That’s about 40 cents cheaper than at the same time in 2022.

AAA anticipates return traffic on area roadways will be heaviest from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For those flying back into town, the auto association says Sunday will be the busiest day.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.