Jeff Smidt is traveling Wednesday from his home in Toronto to visit his family in Andover, Mass., just outside Boston.
“My understanding is that I’m traveling at like the worst time ever,” he said.
Smidt tried to get on an earlier flight but JetBlue told him it isn’t waiving any change fees yet.
“I’m just hoping I also don’t become a statistic during the holiday weekend,” he said. “Worst comes to worst, it will be an eight-hour trek down Interstate 90.”
Ninety percent of travelers this week will drive, according to AAA, and an estimated 38.9 million people — 1.6 percent fewer than last year — are expected to drive 50 miles or more from their home.
Gas is about 15 cents cheaper than last year, AAA said Monday, with a gallon of regular selling for $3.28.
The car-lobbying group and travel agency says Wednesday will be the busiest travel day, a forecast based on a formula that factors in consumer confidence, stock market performance, unemployment and a survey of 418 people that has a 6 percent margin of error.
Air travel will be busier and more expensive than usual this Thanksgiving.
This holiday will likely see the most air travelers since 2007, according to Airlines for America, the industry’s trade and lobbying group, with the busiest day being Sunday, an estimated 2.56 million passengers. Wednesday is expected to be the second-busiest with 2.42 million passengers.
The average domestic airfare is up 9.5 percent from last Thanksgiving to $313, according to the Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes tickets sold online and by traditional travel agencies.
Meanwhile, Amtrak prices in September — the most recent month for which data is available — were up more than 4 percent from last year.
Adding to the usual stress of holiday travel, though, is the weather that’s ahead for much of the country. Already, the storm system dropped several inches of snow last week in New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma and West Texas.
In Arkansas, state police reported that a Franklin woman was killed Monday morning when she lost control of her car on an icy bridge over the Strawberry River in the north-central part of the state. Her car collided head-on with an oncoming vehicle, police said.
Some of the worst weather was expected in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas but most of the region saw only sporadic ice and very cold temperatures.
“You can see it on the power lines but the roads are fine,” said Courtney O’Neal-Walden, who planned to close her Dairyette restaurant in Mount Ida four hours early because business was slow.
In Texas, up to 44,000 people, mostly in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, were without power earlier in the day, but that number had dropped considerably by the afternoon.