The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday will put a projected 24.6 million passengers in airports from now through Dec. 2, which is an increase over last year. Many of those passengers will be infrequent travelers, families with small children and otherwise wonderful people whom the road warrior in us might not love sharing an airplane or a security line.
I flew on Thanksgiving weekend last year and felt fortunate to get through without too much issue. Here are some things to consider:
TSA PreCheck likely won’t be as fast as you’re used to seeing. If you’ve grown accustomed to being able to show up and zip through the line, keep in mind that the Transportation Security Administration is still randomly selecting travelers for PreCheck “upgrades.” Those lines will be filled with travelers who are not familiar with the procedure and that will slow down the process. You’ll need to arrive earlier than you’d probably like.
Travel more lightly than usual. Overhead bins will be jammed. Claiming checked bags will be an even longer wait than normal because of the traffic. Concourses will be crowded as well. If you can avoid the roller bag, this is the time.
Make extra sure your phone is charged. Because you can probably assume the Thanksgiving travelers won’t do so, and your competition for whatever outlets are made available will be severe.
Patience is a virtue. In this case, it’s not just something your mom or grandmother told you. (But mine did: Thanks, Mom!) Everything moves more slowly in a crowd. If you give yourself enough time, you’ll still get there.
You still have the advantage. If something goes wrong and flights get cancelled or delayed, you still have the weight of Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s skilled travel counselors to get you on your way. And if you’re traveling for leisure during the holiday season, you can still rely on the skills and experience you’ve gained from all your previous travel to get yourself rerouted more quickly.
Follow your airports on Twitter. They should be a good source for the latest on security lines, weather delays, parking info and airport amenities. The airlines also may have information on Twitter for you as well.
By the way, if you’re planning to drive for the holiday, just note that AAA projects the highest traffic volume since 2007 and a 4.2 percent increase over last year.