Brace yourself for increased Christmas travel on the roads and airports

Weather clears, but mess remains at Denver airport


Yes, it’s about here—Christmas Holiday travel time, when airports are jammed with package-laden travelers and highways are filled with drivers trying to get to their destinations.

If you think it’ll be elbow-to-elbow at airports and on the highways, you’re right because of increased travel. AAA projects 115.2 million travelers will be on the road which is 2.2% more than a year ago and also the second highest year-end travel forecast since 2000, when AAA began tracking holiday travel.

In Oklahoma, AAA projects nearly 1.1 million Oklahomans will travel over the 10-day year-end holiday travel period. That is a 1.2% increase over last year.

“If there is one thing we have seen throughout the year, it is pent-up demand for travel,” says Rylie Fletcher, public affairs manager, AAA Oklahoma. “Whether people are hitting the road for a visit with friends and family, or planning a more significant getaway, there is little discouraging them.”

Road Travel
Most holiday travelers are going by car as AAA expects nearly 104 million people will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 1.8% compared to 2022. Locally, it is expected that over 1 million Oklahomans will drive.

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Air Travel
AAA projects 7.5 million air travlers across the country this holiday season, suprassing 2019’s record of 7.3 million passengers. In Oklahoma, that number is also up this year. Over 52,000 Oklahomans will fly for the holiday.

A closer look at Oklahoma’s projected year-end holiday travelers reveals lots of traffic on the road and in the air.

2023 Projected Year-End Holiday Travelers – Oklahoma


Total Population

2023 Travelers

Percent of population traveling

Percent change vs. 2022

Oklahoma TOTAL

Auto, Air & Other





Oklahoma Auto

92.6% of people travel by car




Oklahoma Air

4.8% of people travel by air




Oklahoma Other

(train, bus, cruise, etc.)

2.6% of people travel by other modes





National TOTAL

335.2 million*

115.2 million



National Auto


90% of people travel by car

103.6 million



National Air


6.5% of people travel by air

7.5 million



National Other

(train, bus, cruise, etc.)

3.5% of people travel by other modes

4.05 million



*U.S. Census Bureau (v2022)/IHS Markit

The national gas price average has been trending downward for the better part of three months now, with prices hovering around $3.10. In Oklahoma, gas price averages are even lower, hovering around $2.60.

“As we close out 2023, holiday motorists are getting the gift of lower prices at the pump,” says Fletcher.