Traveling home for the Thanksgiving holiday is never a stress-free task, but with the added complications of winter storm Boreas and a projected more than 25 million travelers flying this week, according to the Transporation Security Adminstration (TSA), this year’s holiday rush may be more hectic than ever before. Here are five expert travel tips to help you survive the Thanksgiving travel season at the airport:
For many, leaving days before Thanksgiving may conflict with your work or schooling schedule, so the next best thing? According to travel experts, the best day to travel for Thanksgiving is actually the day of. If you can’t get a jump start on your vacation, consider leaving the morning of Thanksgiving, when most have already reached their final destination and most airlines offer reduced fare options.
All airlines suggest customers arrive hours before their scheduled boarding time during regular travel periods in order to allow an adequate amount of time to get through security. While the normal time frame, a minimum of two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights, will usually ensure you don’t miss your flight, Priceline.com travel expert Brian Ek recommends adding extra time to allow for the expanded number of passengers traveling around the Thanksgiving holiday. “If your flight is in normal business hours, when airports are more crowded, then you should add another 30 to 45 minutes,” Ek told FoxNews, adding, “Get thru security and relax. Who needs the stress?”
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CONSIDER CARRYING ON
Not only will carrying on your luggage save you time at the airport, it will also ensure that you have the essentials handy in the case of an emergency. During the holiday season (especially during a winter storm watch) it isn’t uncommon for flights to be canceled or heavily delayed. Having your basics such as a change of clothes, medications and toiletries handy (remember: only liquids and gels in 3.4-ounce containers or smaller allowed), will make airport delays all the more bearable.
CHECK & DOUBLE CHECK
Speaking of weather-related delays, checking and double-checking your airline reservations will only ensure a more stress-free holiday travel experience. Checking in virtually 24 hours before your flight, and reconfirming your seat reservation, is a smart plan of actions if you’re planning to get out of town for Turkey Day.
SPEED UP SECURITY TIME
Not only will preparing for the security screening process, such as remembering to place liquids in plastic baggies, taking off your shoes and jackets, and placing metal and other objects in bins help, but utilizing the TSA’s prescreening process can also add less time to your travel time. Passengers 12 years of age and under and 75 and older, known travelers or active duty service members are allowed to apply for the TSAPre check process to potentially avoid the pat-down process. (Click here for more information.)
The TSA also frowns upon guests that attempt to bring wrapped gifts through security checkpoints. "Wrapped gifts are allowed, but we recommend waiting until you land to wrap them,” said the TSA’s official blog, adding, “If there’s something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we may have to open it. … It also slows down the line for everybody else when we have to do this.”