Five reasons Thanksgiving travel will be miserable (by the numbers)

You may have gotten a break last year, but the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday will be a return for the norm. Fares are increasing, and traffic is following, as more passengers take to the skies thanks to a recovering economy. The Air Transport Association puts year-over-year Thanksgiving travel growth at 3.5 percent. This is enough to show the tide has turned, but it still doesn’t compensate for the ground lost to the recession.

With more people flying, you will probably find yourself fighting for the armrest, sitting next to someone in that middle seat (unless you’re the unlucky passenger) and struggling to cram your carry-on into the overhead bin.

Let’s take a look at five data points that point to an unpleasant Thanksgiving flying season, with information reported by Reuters:1. 24 million people will fly during the 12-day period around Thanksgiving (November 25, 2010)
2. Daily volumes will range from 1.3 million to 2.5 million
3. Planes will be running close to capacity, with load factors approaching 90 percent
4. Fares are headed up to 18 percent higher than last year (according to Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare)
5. There are fewer seats, with capacity down 10 percent from 2008 levels

Click here for six rules for air travel during the holiday season >>

[photo by Augapfel via Flickr]