AAA: Georgia roads and airports will be packed with holiday travelers

Record holiday travel expected for Christmas, year-end holidays
Security lines back up in the south terminal at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Monday, November 27th, 2023 (Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ben Hendren for the AJC

Credit: Ben Hendren for the AJC

Security lines back up in the south terminal at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Monday, November 27th, 2023 (Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

A record number of travelers in Georgia are expected to travel for the holidays later this month, according to AAA.

About 3.6 million people in Georgia are forecast to travel during the Christmas and year-end holiday period from Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. It will be the busiest year-end holiday travel season ever for the state, the auto club said.

The number of people forecast to travel at least 50 miles for the holidays is up from 3.5 million travelers last year.

“Despite various inflationary pressures, Americans are still willing to budget for travel,” said AAA Vice President of Travel Debbie Haas in a written statement.

December 12, 2022 Atlanta: Northbound Connector traffic heads into downtown Atlanta on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022 as record numbers of Georgians are expected to hit the roads over the next few weeks, according to a AAA forecast. (John Spink /


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The forecast includes about 3.3 million people in Georgia taking road trips and nearly 194,000 flying. More than 154,000 are expected to take a bus, train or cruise.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will be even busier with local travelers as well as connecting passengers.

A post-pandemic surge in travel and major construction project have caused headaches for travelers for much of this year. The Atlanta airport has been plagued with long security lines during busy periods, since a project to replace equipment at the main security checkpoint caused the closure of several screening lanes.

However, the construction project at the main checkpoint is close to being completed, which will add more capacity for security screening.

A shortage of airport parking at Hartsfield-Jackson has also caused frustrations for travelers. Those planning to park at the airport should reserve a spot ahead of time to ensure they get a space.

Nationally, travel volumes are expected to be heavy, with a record 7.5 million people flying and a near-record 103.6 million people driving. Average airline ticket prices are slightly lower than last year, according to AAA.

The volume of airline passengers is expected to be up 16% from last year, according to industry group Airlines for America.

The busiest travel days at airports and in the skies are expected to be Dec. 21-22 before Christmas and Dec. 26-29 after Christmas. Less-congested days to fly include the holidays and holiday eves themselves: Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1.

Travelers planning to fly around the country should prepare for longer lines, AAA warned — and the potential for flight disruptions.

“Seemingly every year around this time we hear about winter weather that causes widespread cancellations or delays,” according to Haas.

On the highways, the most congested days to drive on the highways will be Saturday Dec. 23, Thursday Dec. 28 and Saturday Dec. 30, according to AAA. To avoid the heaviest congestion, hit the road before lunchtime or after 7 p.m., the auto club advised.

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