Thanksgiving Air Travel Demand Supported By Remote And Hybrid Work

Commercial air travel in the U.S. was incredibly robust this week, with passenger volumes close to 2.3 million per day. Thanksgiving was a major driver of demand, of course, but there may be another reason why travelers were able to board planes consistently throughout the week: remote and hybrid work.

Even though most offices and businesses have fully reopened following the pandemic, remote and hybrid work remains the norm for millions of American workers, allowing them to save both time and money they would have otherwise spent on commuting.

Working off-site has been a huge benefit to not just customers but also airlines, according to Helena Becker, an airlines analyst at Cowen. This type of work “enables [airlines] to be less ‘peaky’” and enables customers “to get better pricing,” Becker says.

Robert Isom shares the same idea. Speaking at last week’s Skift Aviation Forum in Dallas, the American Airlines CEO said that “demand is more spread out” due to the rise in remote work, adding that consumers, airlines and airports are no longer “beholden to the structure of the past.”

This helps explain why air travel demand was strong throughout the week instead of it being concentrated on the days immediately preceding and following Thanksgiving Day, as has historically been the case. On Sunday and Monday, more people boarded commercial jets than they did on the equivalent days in 2019, according to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) data.

Daily Number of US commercial Passengers Has Remained Above 2 million

What Americans Have Gained By Working Remotely

Remote work isn’t the perfect fit for every company or employee, but the potential benefits are easy to see.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, people who work remotely, either full-time or part-time, can save between $2,000 and $7,000 annually in transportation and work-related costs. They can also gain back the equivalent of two to three weeks per year in commuting time. An estimated $20 billion could collectively be saved at the pump.

With offices now fully open, you might think that remote and hybrid work is disappearing, but the opposite appears to be true. Gallup, the analytics and advisory firm, found that work away from home actually increased in 2022, accounting for 49% of the U.S. labor force in June, up from 42% in February. “Fully on-site work is expected to remain a relic of the past,” the firm says, though you’re welcome to disagree.