Thanksgiving marks the busiest travel season in the U.S., starting on Friday, November 17, and extending until Tuesday, November 28. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates screening over 30 million travelers during this period, with the busiest days being the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after.
Thanksgiving Travel Surge
Most Americans travel by car, with over 55 million people expected to drive at least 50 miles to their Thanksgiving destinations. AAA forecasts this year's travel numbers to be the third highest since 2000, reaching pre-pandemic levels.
Air travel is also set to be busy. According to MSN, Airlines for America predicts a significant increase in flights around the holiday, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expecting around 39,055 to 49,606 flights on key days. The busiest day for air travel is projected to be Wednesday, November 22, with the FAA scheduling the highest number of flights and the TSA preparing to screen 2.7 million passengers.
Travel is lighter on Thanksgiving Day, considered the easiest day for flying during this period. For drivers, AAA advises traveling before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. to avoid the busiest road times between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Black Friday, traditionally a day for shopping, also sees increased travel activity. INRIX, a transportation data company, suggests the most congested times for driving will be between 12-4 p.m.
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Moreover, the report also mentioned that the weekend following Thanksgiving remains busy, with the FAA scheduling nearly 42,000 flights on Saturday and about 45,000 on Sunday. Sunday is expected to be the busiest travel day, with Airlines for America anticipating more than 3.2 million passengers flying. United Airlines predicts it will be one of their busiest days since before the pandemic.
Travelers should also note TSA guidelines for carrying food. Items like pies, turkey, and stuffing are allowed in carry-ons, while liquids like cranberry sauce, gravy, and wine exceeding 3.4 ounces must be checked. The TSA advises travelers to pack these items in a way that makes them easily accessible for security screening.
Weather Challenges for Thanksgiving Travelers
A big storm starting off the West Coast is expected to travel across the country this week, bringing wet weather with it. Fox Weather updated that early this week, there's a risk of severe weather along the Gulf Coast. Then later, there will be a lot of rain and some snow around the Great Lakes.
Since the holiday is coming, millions of Americans are getting ready to travel for Thanksgiving. However, a strong storm system will affect over 30 states in the central and eastern U.S. This storm will cause different weather problems, like bad weather near the Gulf Coast and rain and snow in the Northeast and New England.
The FOX Forecast Center reports that on Tuesday, a lot of rain is likely across a big part of the Eastern U.S. This rain could affect travel for Thanksgiving in many big cities. As this weather system heads towards the Ohio Valley, another one from Canada will come down south. This second system will add more strength to the storm that's already happening.
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