Week in Review: Thanksgiving Sets Travel Records, 2024 Predictions

Thanksgiving proved to be one of the busiest periods for travel in history, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which screened a record of 2.9 million passengers on Sunday, November 26. Both American Airlines and United Airlines had record levels of passengers, as well: American announced an all-time high of approximately 6.5 million passengers over the Thanksgiving period, while United saw a record-breaking 3.2 million fliers from November 17 to 23, leading up to Thanksgiving.

According to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA history have occurred in 2023.

Top 2024 Trends and Predictions

Looking forward, several companies shared their top trends and predictions for travel in 2024. Here’s what some of them had to say:

In addition, according to the “Global Rescue Fall Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey,” more than 80 percent of the world’s most experienced travelers took as many or more trips in 2023 than at any time before the pandemic.  Despite rising travel costs, airline flight disruptions and travel staff shortages, most survey respondents (66 percent) did not cancel any trips in 2023 and more than a third (38 percent) did not postpone any travel plans.

Cruise Planners Hits $1 Billion Sales Mark

Shown left to right at the 2023 Cruise Planners conference are: Scott Koepf, chief strategy officer; Theresa Scalzitti, chief operating officer; Michelle Fee, founder and CEO,; and Brian Shultz, chief information officer.
Shown left to right are: Scott Koepf, chief strategy officer; Theresa Scalzitti, COO; Michelle Fee, founder and CEO; and Brian Shultz, chief information officer. (Photo by Cruise Planners.)

For the first time ever, the Cruise Planners network—which comprises more than 2,500 travel agency franchises—has soared above the $1 billion mark in 2023 sales. Theresa Scalzitti, chief operating officer, Cruise Planners, the network is up 39 percent in overall 2023 travel sales compared to the previous year, while Michelle Fee, founder and CEO, added that future departures for 2024 are up 38 percent compared to this time last year.

Scalzitti reported that the top destinations for the network are the Caribbean, Europe and Alaska. It’s also seeing strong growth from its luxury sector, which is up 36 percent over 2022. On the cruise side, world, exotic and river cruises have shown the most improvement year-over-year.

During its “CP World: Limitless” annual conference in South Florida this week, Cruise Planners debuted new artificial intelligence tools, as well as other new initiatives, including LivePlanner Group Sessions, a new Cruise API from Traveltek, a new Video Library tool and more.

On Site: Brightline's Rail Experience

Smart (economy) class guests can opt for a variety of seating including quad seats with a table between. Small trays for each seat also pull up from under the table.
Brightline offers two seating configurations onboard, where chairs face the same direction or (as shown here) each other. (Photo by Brightline.)

Travel Agent recently rode Florida’s Brightline train from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando and back—first in Smart (coach) class, then in Premium (business) class for the return. We found the entire experience—from arrival at the station to disembarking in the destination—to be very pleasant.

The bright, modern Fort Lauderdale terminal was spacious with a few seats as well as tables and chairs; plus, we really enjoyed the available Wi-Fi, outlets and USB ports in the terminal. There’s also a retail area and full-service bar with food.

Onboard, we were quickly ushered to our assigned seats, which have multiple configurations. Guests on our Smart coach picked either two adjacent seats facing the back of the seats in front of them or, alternatively two adjacent seats that face two other seats with a table between. Onboard, travelers also had access to Starlink Wi-Fi, which was free.

The Latest in Iceland

Blue Lagoon, Iceland close to Grindavik
Blue Lagoon remains closed through December 7 despite a downtick in seismic activity. (Photo by AL-Travelpicture/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Seismic activity in Iceland has continued to slowly decrease over the past couple of days, according to the most recent update from the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Most of the earthquakes have been smaller than magnitude 1.0. While the Met Office notes that “an eruption is still considered to be possible,” Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has downgraded its Phase of Emergency on the Reykjanes Peninsula to an Alert Phase.

The activity, which began October 24, peaked around November 10, when the town of Grindavík was evacuated to prioritize the safety of its residents. Due to its proximity to the epicenter of the earthquakes, the Blue Lagoon closed November 9 and remains shut through December 7, “at which point the situation will be reassessed.”

Travel to the island never ceased and Icelandair and other carriers continued with flights as scheduled. The area surrounding Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula remains closed, however.

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