From crowded airports to strikes and security delays, travelers hitting the road this Thanksgiving weekend will have a number of things to keep in mind to ensure smooth sailing.
1. Expect Crowds…Again – Like last year, Thanksgiving travel this year will be busier than ever. AAA is forecasting the busiest Thanksgiving travel period in a dozen years, with 50.9 million Americans traveling 50 or more miles from home from Wednesday, November 22, through Sunday, November 26. Zooming in on air travel, 28.5 million passengers will take to the skies this extended weekend, according to Airlines for America (A4A), representing a 3 percent uptick from 2016.
The worst airport crowds in the United States will be in Atlanta and Los Angeles (LAX), according to the research teams at Hopper and InsureMyTrip. Chicago O’Hare, Dallas and New York – JFK round out the top five.
2. Eye on Security – Bigger crowds means longer lines at airport security, and Politico reports that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be even more stringent than usual as the agency responds to a leaked report detailing a series of high-profile security lapses during testing by the Department of Homeland Security. TSA Administrator David Pekoske told Politico that the agency is phasing in revised security procedures that could increase wait times, and that some of the longest wait times could happen on Sunday as travelers return home from the holiday.
One particular trouble spot could be international flights returning to the United States, which implemented new screening procedures in October as part of a deal to end this summer’s laptop ban. Travel agents we spoke with recommended arriving extra early for these flights – up to three hours prior to departure – and also allowing extra time for connections. More tips are available here.
3. Strikes in Italy – This weekend and throughout December, a series of strikes in Italy could delay or cancel certain flights. Earlier today and yesterday Alitalia, British Airways, Lufthansa, EasyJet and Ryanair already cancelled a number of flights due to a strike by ground handlers. Looking further ahead, another strike by airport personnel is planned for Milan on December 1, with other strikes to run through December.
4. Good weather – It’s not all bad news, however. An unusually clear weather forecast for the continental United States will minimize the chance of weather delays, according to ABC News. There could be a trouble spot in the Pacific Northwest, where travelers could experience heavy rain Wednesday morning, but the storms should clear by the afternoon.
5. Cyber Monday Deals – Finally, the travel festivities won’t end with the long weekend. Major travel agencies, cruise lines, airlines, tour operators and hotels will be offering special deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to help travelers book their next vacation. You can check out our Cyber Monday deals roundup here.