Traveling for the holidays? Expect to pay more for flights and rental cars

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It is one of the busiest travel times of the year as millions scramble onto roads or into the skies to see friends and family for Thanksgiving, and it will cost you more than it has in recent years to travel.

A busy departure concourse at Memphis’ airport as thousands rush to ready themselves for holiday travel. The airport predicted 78,000 people will pass through TSA checkpoints over a 10-day period, which started Nov. 19, according to information released by a spokesman.

That number was a 90% increase over the same period in 2020.

“We got here extra early just in case it was going to be super busy,” said Maggie Wagoner, traveling to the east coast with her son Remy and her parents to visit family.

People are paying more to get to their destinations, as well.

Travel aggregator Kayak said flights leaving Memphis International Airport averaged eight percent more than they did in 2019, about $395 for a ticket.

Wagoner said that did not surprise her.

It was not a bother for Tiffany and Remille Faulkner, both headed to Dallas for a Cowboys game. They said they normally stay in Memphis with family during the holiday, but decided to do something different this year.

“(It’s) my first time ever traveling on Thanksgiving,” said Remille Faulkner.

Tiffany Faulkner also said she was not surprised by the increased prices.

Rental car prices rose as well, according to Kayak, marking Memphis’ 14 most expensive rental car city – 71% higher than in 2019, at about $105 per day for a rental.

“Travelers are ready to go rent cars at pre-pandemic levels or even greater, and the rental car agencies are doing what they can,” said Matthew Clarke, Kayak’s vice president of North American marketing.

Clarke pointed a finger at supply shortages after rental companies sold inventory to recoup pandemic losses.

The cost of flying, however, to many at the airport Wednesday morning was no match for time with family.

“The price doesn’t stop me at all. There’s no price for the family,” said Alton Jones, who said he was leaving Memphis and headed back to Texas after visiting family.