How Holidays Are Impacting Airport Rideshare Demand


How many people fly each year during the Thanksgiving holidays? Try 30 million. That’s how many people the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported to screen this year in the twelve days between Friday, November 17, and Tuesday, November 28. It’s a daunting challenge for rideshare companies as they determine the incentives and bonuses needed to lure drivers away from their families to the major airports. 

Thanks to Gridwise Analytics and more than 500,000 reporting gig drivers, we now have a clearer picture of airport traffic data and what happens during this peak travel season and other major travel holidays. This information benefits the mobility companies as they grapple with adequately compensating those with gig economy jobs and how best to incentivize drivers. The other beneficiaries are hedge funds, equity research firms, and venture capital firms, as they evaluate investments in mobility companies.  

What’s inside this blog post:

How Gridwise Analytics provides airport traffic data

Gridwise is a companion app for more than 500,000 US part-time and full-time rideshare, food delivery, and parcel delivery drivers. Gridwise interfaces with these drivers’ apps, providing information and tips on maximizing earnings. The Gridwise app also provides a mileage and expense tracker, which ensures drivers get the tools they need to maximize their earnings potential.

Gridwise aggregates and anonymizes data from these gig drivers, making it possible to convert the information into data points. For example, Gridwise reports where trips originate, where they end, and the major transportation corridors—vital information for companies involved in the growing mobility field. Since Gridwise also serves food and parcel delivery drivers, this intel holds potential for companies engaged in those sectors as well. 

What Gridwise airport traffic data tells us about the holidays

Our airport passenger traffic data, starting with Thanksgiving 2022, provides a unique and reliable picture of airport travel.  

Thanksgiving 2022

In 2022, we saw the first significant spike in Thanksgiving holiday travel activity two Mondays before the holiday. Gridwise Analytics airport traffic data showed a surge across the US that spiked 18% higher than a typical Monday night. 

The increase in traffic continued to the following Saturday (the weekend before Thanksgiving). Airport passenger traffic data showed a 17% increase in the morning and evening compared to the usual numbers. By Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, we saw another spike, with a 12% increase over the average Wednesday.

There was a dip the Friday after Thanksgiving of nearly half (49% lower) than what's typically observed on a standard Friday morning. We can likely attribute that to the lack of business travel during the holiday. The post-holiday rush came the Monday night following Thanksgiving with a 32% increase in travel activity as people returned home.

Christmas 2022

Airport passenger traffic data from Gridwise Analytics showed airport activity in the US surged during the Christmas holiday, reaching 12% above the expected levels on December 17 (data is adjusted to the day of the week to account for the variations from one year to another). After this spike and a small bump on December 22, there was a decrease until Tuesday, January 3, 2023, when traffic jumped 17% over a typical Monday as travelers returned home.

Memorial Day 2023

There was a gradual increase in activity at the airports on Memorial Day, peaking at a 16% increase over a standard day's activity between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. on May 23, a week before the holiday, and then another peak of about 5% during the same time frame, on Memorial Day itself. Following this peak, there was a noticeable decrease, with trip activity dropping to 31% below the expected levels.

Independence Day 2023

Approaching Independence Day, there was an increase in activity from July 1 to July 2. We saw an overnight increase in activity of 21% above the norm for a typical day. Travel patterns shifted downward by 34% in the evening of July 3, continuing into the 4th of July, which, again, we can likely attribute to the lack of business travel. 

Driver tips also play a factor in holiday gig driver earnings 

Tips from passengers through the Gridwise app average between 10% and 14% of rideshare driver pay during the regular year. As holiday periods approach, there's an increase of slightly over 2% in the proportion of trips receiving tips, compared to usual patterns based on time of day and week. 

This surge is then followed by a decline, with the number of rides that include tips dropping by 11%. After the holiday, there is a resurgence in tipping, with tipping rates rising about 3% above the normal levels.

Although tips are lower, our data suggests that holidays do not significantly affect earnings overall. As a result, drivers do not experience a considerable increase in earnings beyond the usual expectations.

The value of traffic data services and mobility analytics

These numbers and charts give rideshare companies a clearer picture of demand during the holidays beyond their own data. Companies face the challenge of designing gig driver incentives that lure drivers away from holiday dinners and activities and into their cars to provide rides.  

For Uber, these include Uber Quests and Uber Boost+. Uber Quests rewards drivers with an additional bonus for taking consecutive rides in a specific time frame. An Uber Boost+ is more pinpointed, attracting drivers with bonuses on rides in an area where demand will increase within a few hours. Drivers become particularly adept at taking advantage of these incentives to increase their Uber driver income. 

For Lyft, these incentives come in the form of Lyft Sprints, similar to Uber Quests. 

Both Uber and Lyft also offer surge pricing. These incentives kick in when ride-sharing demand exceeds the supply of rideshare drivers available. 

Lyft and Uber want to offer bonuses that create lucrative rideshare driver pay that attracts drivers out during the holidays, but at the same time, they do not want to drive up passenger fares to the point that it affects usage. More accurate airport traffic data allow rideshare companies to achieve this. 

Traffic data services and mobility analytics aid the investment community

Earlier this year, McKinsey & Company’s article Shared Mobility: Sustainable Cities, Shared Destinies predicted that by 2030, “shared mobility could generate up to $1 trillion in consumer spending.” The article also reported that private investors, technology companies, and others have invested more than $100 billion into shared-mobility companies over the past decade. 

Firms in the investment sector are increasingly using data analytics from sources such as Gridwise Analytics to test their theses and determine the potential of mobility-related companies. Gridwise Analytics is able to provide accurate data in real-time so that venture capitalists, equity research firms, and hedge fund managers can make sound decisions about the best opportunities. 

This is especially true as the US expands its airline infrastructure. Airports are usually in areas characterized by high-cost real estate. It is important to make the best decisions and use this real estate to its maximum benefit. 

How other companies can benefit from mobility analytics and traffic data services

Gridwise Analytics shows where and when people and items move through a city. Companies in other business sectors have benefited or can benefit from this type of traffic data.  

Electrical vehicle chargers

EV chargers are essential to the growth of electric vehicles. The challenge is that the upfront cost for a charger is considerable, and payback is slow. This means EV charger companies must be selective in where they place these chargers to ensure maximum payback. Learn the story behind one company’s success in this Gridwise Analytics article, Gridwise Mobility Data Analytics Pinpoint EV Charger Locations

Autonomous vehicles

A firm designing autonomous vehicles to deliver smaller items was ready to test their service. However, they were still determining which market would be the most beneficial. They needed a dataset that told the story. Learn about their successful partnership with Gridwise in Data-Driven Strategy: How Gig Mobility Drove Fleet Efficiency in an Autonomous Vehicle Company’s Strategy

Other transportation analytics companies

No one company has the corner on the best information when it comes to traffic data. Replica, a transportation analytics company, provides models to help companies and municipalities understand how transportation functions. Replica called upon Gridwise Analytics to sharpen its picture. Read the story in this Gridwise post, Replica: Enhancing Mobility Insights with Gridwise TNC Data

Partner with Gridwise

Gridwise Analytics offers traffic data services with unique insights for companies involved in the broader transportation infrastructure, demonstrating how people and goods move from one location to another. The data show where trips originate, where they end, and the primary travel corridors. Gridwise Analytics’ partners marvel at the data's clean nature, allowing them to integrate the data into their existing datasets with little or no manipulation. 

For a demonstration of how Gridwise Analytics vehicle trip data can sharpen your transportation analytics, contact Gridwise Analytics

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