Thanksgiving Travel This Year Is Expected To Be The Worst In A Decade

thanksgiving travel 2018

Unsplash/Karl Magnuson

We thought last year’s Thanksgiving travel was painful, but here comes 2018 to prove, once again, that things can always get worse. This year’s Thanksgiving travel predictions say record numbers of travelers will be checking into airports and hitting the highways near you.

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) estimates that more than 25 million people will be screened at airport security checkpoints this Thanksgiving. Just to hammer home the impact of this unpleasant airport terminal standstill, one of New York’s airports alone will get more than 100,000 passengers every day during the Thanksgiving travel period.

According to AAA, Thanksgiving weekend will have the highest volume of travelers on the road in more than a decade. More than 54 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for their pumpkin pie.

United States transportation authorities define the Thanksgiving holiday travel season as the Friday before Thanksgiving until the Monday following Thanksgiving. So if you’re counting on missing the madness by leaving the week prior to Turkey Day, think again.

Air Travel

thanksgiving travel 2018

Unsplash/Jon Tyson

Sadly, there’s not much you can do about your flight time matching up with everyone else’s departure. But you can make sure to get to the airport plenty early. With surges at the security checkpoints in major airports like New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) or Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), TSA officials recommend getting to the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight. Yes, that’s an extra hour on top of the normal recommendation.

Take extra care if you’re traveling on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. TSA officials are warning travelers that it looks like that day will make it into the agency’s list of top busiest days of all time. So don’t cut things too close at the airport. Pack a turkey sandwich with some of those leftovers and prepare for all the lines.

On The Road

thanksgiving travel 2018

Unsplash/Matthew Henry

If you’re a lucky duck who’s avoiding the epically rough airport security lines this Thanksgiving, thank your cranberry sauce stars. It’s much more pleasant to deal with Thanksgiving delays when you’re not standing under fluorescent lighting, dragging your suitcase and counting down the minutes until your turn at the conveyor belt. But don’t forget to factor in traffic on the roads.

If you have any flexibility in your driving schedule, avoid the busiest days from your departure city:

  • Monday: Houston
  • Tuesday: New York, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Atlanta, Seattle and Boston
  • Wednesday: San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles


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