Thanksgiving Travel, Best and Worst Times to Travel and What to Expect this Holiday Season

Morristown Minute

AAA predicts 53.4 million people to travel this Thanksgiving holiday with an 80% increase in air travel from last year. This is the highest single-year increase since 2005 as we see travel congestion begin to reach pre-pandemic levels.

53.4 million to travel this Thanksgiving holiday.

Of the 53.4 million people traveling this Thanksgiving holiday, 48.3 million will hit the roads, and ~4.2 million with travel by air with ~1 million traveling by other means.

Wednesday will have the worst congestion on roads and in the air, with the most popular travel times between 2:30 PM and 4:30 PM. AAAs Travel Restriction Map and are useful resources to help navigate the congestion and any road closures that may impact your travel.

For those traveling by road in need of a rental car, know cost is up 75% compared to 2019 and 66% compared to 2020. Searches for rental cars are also up 230% from 2019 as more people set to travel by air and then rent a car to drive to their final destination. For those considering this option, know that the most expensive markets for Thanksgiving are NYC (at $135/day) and Charleston, South Carolina (at $123/day).

Rental car prices are up 66% compared to last year.

For those traveling by air, the TSA expects travel volumes to reach pre-pandemic levels with the Sunday after Thanksgiving returning as the busiest travel day of the year. ~2.4 million people are expected to travel by air on Sunday, November 28th. Approximately 2 million people will travel by air today, 11/23, and that daily travel rate should remain consistent for the 24th, 27th, and 29th.

Sunday after Thanksgiving will be the busiest travel day of the year.

The TSA would also like to remind travelers that a federal mask mandate is still in effect. Anyone traveling by airport, bus and rail, passenger aircraft, public transit, passenger railroad, or at any bus and train station is required to mask up. TSA and public transit officials will offer masks to anyone without as the mandate is punishable by federal law.

Additionally, the TSA reminds passengers to pack smart. Check foods that are not solid. If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, then check it.

Bring hand sanitizer but keep it under 12 ounces. The TSA suggests containers under 3.4 ounces because larger containers must be screened separately and will only delay your wait time through security checkpoints.

Keep liquids under 3.4 ounces to speed up security checks.

Now is the time to get TSA Precheck. Even if it won’t be available in time for Thanksgiving Travel, holiday air congestion is reaching normal, pre-pandemic levels and TSA Precheck allows passengers to speed up the security process by avoiding having to take off shoes, belts, laptops, liquids, and light jackets. TSA Precheck will put you in a shorter line that moves much faster easing the annoyance of security checks at airports.

The most recent update from the TSA regarding the federal vaccination mandate was three weeks ago when 40% of TSA workers had not received a single COVID vaccine. The deadline for federal workers to get vaccinated was November 22. However, a source close to the TSA stated that travel will not be impacted by terminations over non-vaccinations.

Travel will not be impacted by terminations over non-vaccinations, according to the TSA.

Currently, those federal workers unvaccinated are receiving education on the safety and efficacy of vaccines. After which they will have an opportunity to get vaccinated. If a federal worker still refuses, they will be issued a warning, after which they may be subject to termination.

With a lot of local Morristown and NJ residents hopping state lines, it’s important to know how other airports are faring this holiday season. The busiest airports in the country are Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with 154,000 departing on Wednesday, November 24th. DFW and LAX come in second and third, respectively as busiest airports for this holiday.

New York City’s JFK is expected to be within the top ten busiest airports for Thanksgiving travel.

Newark Airport, EWR, wants passengers to know they are in the process of constructing a new Terminal A, and anyone flying out of Terminal A should arrive at least two hours prior to their departure time.

Anyone flying out of Terminal A at EWR should arrive two hours prior to their departure.

For New Jersey residents, NJ Transit will add additional service for the Thanksgiving holiday early morning and mid-afternoon Thursday, November 25th.

Finally, the weather this holiday looks promising. Wednesday will likely be cool and dry with highs in the mid-40s, holding out nicely for the busiest travel day.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, will see a mix of sun and clouds with highs in the mid-50s and light wind.

Friday will see early showers of about a quarter-inch followed by clear skies in the afternoon.

For more updates and more travel information follow Morristown Minute.

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