More than 4.5 million people are expected to escape the UK over Christmas and new year despite threatened industrial action by British Airways cabin crew and Virgin Atlantic pilots.
Travellers over the festive period also face the prospect of disruption as Storm Barbara brings winds gusting up to 90mph forecast in parts of Scotland on Friday and Saturday.
Parts of Northern Ireland, north Wales and the north of England are also due to be affected by the incoming storm.
Bad weather has already disrupted travel plans for many people, and holidaymakers are being advised by Abta to keep a close eye on news reports and their travel providers’ websites for updates.
The association is advising travellers to leave extra time to get to airports as roads will be extremely busy, and to check in advance for any travel restrictions if using public transport.
The peak travel day is predicted to be tomorrow (Friday), with Christmas Day expected to be the quietest day for travel.
Although a strike by airport workers has been cancelled, BA “mixed fleet” cabin crew still plan a walkout on Christmas Day and Boxing Day although talks to avert the action are ongoing and the airline plans to run a full schedule.
Members of the Professional Pilots Union at Virgin Atlantic plan action short of a strike from tomorrow in a row over union recognition with the carrier also expecting all flights to operate as normal.
Top overseas destinations over the festive period are short haul to Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and long haul to Cape Verde, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Goa, with one major travel company reporting a 50% increase in bookings to the Indian coastal state, according to Abta.
Members are also reporting that many destinations are close to being fully booked.
Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy are the top ski destinations, while Iceland has also proved to be popular.
Top new year’s eve breaks include Dublin, Barcelona, New York, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and London.
Millions of people are leaving the country through the major airports, all of which are reporting increases in passenger numbers over last year.
As many as 638,000 are departing from Stansted, 380,000 from Luton,130,000 from Bristol, 215,000 from Birmingham and 35,000 from Cardiff.
Gatwick expects a 10% increase on the 900,000 passengers that departed over the same period in 2015. Heathrow is also due to be very busy with increased passenger numbers in line with other airports.
Hundreds of thousands of passengers are leaving the UK from Scottish airports, with 238,000 travelling through Edinburgh alone, as well as large numbers leaving from other regional airports.
A significant number of people are also travelling across the English Channel by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel, with 180,000 using Eurostar.
Many are taking UK breaks, while city stays in London and York have sold well.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Christmas and new year are always a very busy time for the travel industry, with millions of people heading off overseas either to visit friends and family or take a well-earned holiday.
“At certain times, the roads and public transport will be very busy, so we are advising travellers to check in advance and leave extra time to get to the airport if necessary.
“The weather has also already caused disruption this year and more unsettled weather is heading our way in the lead-up to Christmas so people should keep an eye on the news and make sure they know their rights if their flight is delayed or cancelled.