AAA: Holiday travel wave to begin on Wednesday

December 18, 2018

The first significant wave of holiday travelers is expected to begin on Wednesday.

AAA is forecasting that more than one-third of Americans will travel this holiday season. This year it projects a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the most since AAA has been tracking holiday travel since 2001.

In all, more than 102 million people who will pack up their vehicles for a holiday road trip.

Peak travel times

AAA and INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be as much as four times longer than a normal trip.

Travel times in the New York City metro area are projected to be .3.75 times longer.

INRIX expects drivers to experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week starting Wednesday as commuters and holiday travelers meet on the roads.

In the greater Boston area, Wednesday is expected to be the worst day to travel, peaking between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.

The worst day to travel in the New York City area will be Thursday, especially between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.

“With a record-level number of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metro areas - with Thursday, being the nation’s worst day to travel,” Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX said in a release.

“Our advice is to avoid traveling during peak commuting hours. If schedules allow, leave bright and early, or after the morning commute.”


Rain late Thursday through Friday morning could cause more delays on the roads.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a 40 percent chance of rain after noon on Thursday. Up to three-quarters of an inch of rain is expected to fall Thursday night.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday are expected to be fair with seasonable temperatures.

Current models say it’s unlikely we’ll have a White Christmas.

Air travel: Highest level since 2003

Airports will be especially crowded because the 6.7 million people who will travel by air this year is the highest level in 15 years and is 4.2 percent more than last year.

An analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years showed that most holiday air travelers depart two or three days before Christmas and return the day after the holiday.

This holiday season, Saturday, Dec. 22, Sunday, Dec. 23 and Wednesday, Dec, 26 will be the busiest days in the skies and at the airports. It found that fewer holiday travelers choose to fly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which are the lightest travel days around the Christmas holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen a record number of travelers during the 2018 Christmas and New Year holiday travel season. Nationwide, TSA projects it will screen 6 percent more travelers compared to this same period last year.

At airports across the country, projected passenger volumes will average around 2.3 million travelers per day.

Volumes will begin to pick-up Wednesday and continue through Monday. Many travelers have planned their return travel starting Wednesday, Dec. 26 through the end of the year.

The busiest day of the holiday season is projected to be Friday, when TSA expects to screen more than 2.7 million people.

TSA recommends that travelers arrive at the airport two hours prior to flight departure to ensure there is plenty of time to complete each step of the airport process.

Connecticut roads

Major roads like I-95, I-91, I-84 and the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways will see the heaviest traffic. Along with travelers heading to their destination, there will be more people on the road heading to stores to pick up last-minute holiday gifts.

Connecticut state troopers will enforce all motor vehicle laws and focus on reducing the number of DUIs, crashes and injury-producing accidents occurring on the interstates, state roads and local roadways. hazards at a distance.

State Police will operate roving patrols and conduct DUI checkpoints through the Christmas and New Year’s holiday.

As of Dec. 15, the Connecticut Crash Data Repository said there have been 279 deaths on Connecticut roads. As of Dec. 15, 2017, there were 271 deaths and on Dec. 15, 2016, there were 294 deaths. The total number of deaths on state roads in 2017 was 286.


Beginning at 1 p.m. Friday, the railroad plans early Christmas Getaway Trains leaving Grand Central Terminal. Some evening trains may be canceled or combined because of decreased ridership.

On Christmas Eve, an expanded Saturday schedule will be in effect.

On Christmas Day, it will operate a special holiday schedule with hourly service on most lines.

For the week between Christmas and New Year’s, will have reduced AM peak service and additional inbound service in the late morning. PM peak service will operate normally.

For more details, click here.

Update hourly