Starting tomorrow, Thanksgiving travel season will be in full-swing! We’re one week out and with kids off school, breaks starting for college students, and the holidays ramping up, that can only mean one thing: the airport is going to be a f*cking nightmare.
TV journalist and TikTok’s resident “news girl” Lisa Remillard broke down how this upcoming week will go for Thanksgiving travelers, warning everyone to buckle up and load up on some much needed patience. You’re going to need it!
“A warning to you right now: if you are traveling for Thanksgiving, especially if you have to fly, it is going to be hectic, crowded, chaotic. Pick your word,” Remillard begins before mentioning that the entire TSA situation could be even worse if there would be a looming government shutdown.
Thankfully, just a few hours ago, Congress ended the threat of a government shutdown until after the holidays, pushing a stalemate over the federal budget into the new year.
Despite that small bright side, Remillard still sees a messy travel situation for most people this week, noting that the TSA’s predictions for this year see long lines, crowded planes, and record-breaking numbers.
According to an official TSA release, the “holiday season” begins on Friday with the start of Thanksgiving travel and concludes on Nov. 28. During that 12-day period, 30 million passengers are expected to be screened at security checkpoints nationwide.
Preliminary TSA projections indicate that up to 3 million people will pass through security checkpoints on Sunday, Nov. 26, which is scheduled to be the busiest of the three days.
That number will surpass the current record, which was set on June 30 of this year when 2.9 million passengers were screened by TSA officers in a single day. TSA officials believe that record will be broken this Thanksgiving holiday travel period.
“In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top ten busiest travel days in TSA history,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. “We are ready for the anticipated volumes and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure we are prepared for this busy holiday season.”
Pekoske says that agents will be working as hard as they can to keep wait time standards under 30 minutes for standard screening lanes and under 10 minutes for TSA PreCheck lanes.
However, if you’re banking on that TSA PreCheck life, you might want to think again. There are now an additional 17.5 million people enrolled in the pre-check program.
TSA says they are hoping to keep TSA pre-check wait times around 10 minutes and 30 minute wait times for the standard lines, but why leave our chances up to fate?
So, what can Thanksgiving travelers do to help alleviate some of those travel blues?
TSA released some travel and packing tips to help plane passengers get through the TSA security lines at the airport just a little quicker.
If you’re bringing the cranberry sauce or your favorite cabernet to Thanksgiving dinner, TSA wants to make sure certain foods are packed in a checked bag because they are considered to be liquids or gels.
TLDR; Don’t bring your nana’s famous green bean casserole through security.
If the substance can be spilled, sprayed, spread, pumped or poured, it is considered a liquid and must be packed in a checked bag, TSA says. For more information on prohibited items, visit the TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” page.
Obviously bring the right forms of ID, and of course, get to the airport early! Yes, this is the one time when it’s totally okay to become an airport dad and get to the airport 4-5 hours before your flight. You know you’d rather be sitting at your gate, nomming on some McDonald’s breakfast knowing you have time to kill than stressed AF in a long security line, hoping you’ll make your flight.
Lastly, TSA asks passengers to please be nice to their agents. Yes, I know that they scream at you to take your shoes off and take your laptop out of your bag, but they have to deal with so many cranky travelers, so maybe just give them a quick smile and a “Happy Holidays!” — ‘tis the season!