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No major problems during busy Thanksgiving week, but will it last?

Nov. 29, 2021
3 min read
No major problems during busy Thanksgiving week, but will it last?
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It's the Sunday of the long Thanksgiving weekend and by all accounts, domestic travel has gone off more smoothly than expected. Despite fears that labor shortages, walkouts, bad weather, security issues or out-of-control passengers could disrupt travel, no major snafus have been reported.

Related: Brace yourself: It may be a rough holiday travel season — but not for the reason you think

Our collective breath-holding has worked, and if that isn't something we should be grateful for, I don't know what is.(It is still early afternoon on the West Coast as I write this, so lets not get too gleeful.)

In fact, there were no operational meltdowns like the one that hit Southwest back in October or the one that hit American Airlines later that same month.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, some 2.2 million travelers passed through airport checkpoints on Saturday. That doesn’t quite reach the 2.6 million number from 2019. But it is several runways ahead of the 964,000 from 2020.

Today is set to be the busiest since the pandemic started with the TSA expected to screen 2.4 million passengers today alone.

Related: Be prepared for holiday travel challenges

According to the TSA, the busiest days during the Thanksgiving travel period are Tuesday and Wednesday before turkey day and the Sunday that follows. In fact, the largest volume of travelers ever recorded by the TSA was the nearly 3 million that crossed through its checkpoints the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019.

(Photo by By Alexander Raths/Shutterstock)

That was a few months before the world would be upended by the pandemic.

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The highest numbers reported by the TSA thus far this Thanksgiving were on Wednesday, at 2.3 million. In comparison, the day before Thanksgiving in 2020 (the holiday fell on Nov. 26 last year) saw a paltry 560,902 travelers crossing through security.

Related: 5 things to do to prepare for holiday travel

Is holiday travel on its way back to meeting or exceeding traditional numbers? It's too soon to tell. Many still making their way home from warm gatherings with family and friends may be convinced that the pandemic is all but over. They may not have been watching the news.

The specter of a new, possibly more contagious variant of the virus has led to global restrictions and strict new travel bans in the last 24 hours. Travel may have taken one step forward only to take two steps back.

The next few days will tell.

The U.S. will ban arrivals of foreign nationals from eight southern African countries starting tomorrow. Israel and Morocco have closed their borders entirely to foreigners. Cases of the new Omicron variant have been confirmed in the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, France, Canada and South Africa.

Related: Visitors to the UK must take PCR test after arrival: Omicron cases confirmed

U.S. health officials speculated on Sunday talk shows that the variant could well already be here.

For now, let's focus on the good news that Thanksgiving was a travel success. Let's hope we see similar clear skies during the Christmas holidays.

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more