With Thanksgiving fast approaching, will you be prepared to fly during some of the busiest travel days of the year? As more and more people are getting vaccinated, it’s undeniable  that airports will be crowded. Despite having a tried-and-true method of flying, that might not work for you this year. In fact, there are also issues you need to be aware of besides the crowds.

 

Thanksgiving Airport Travel Tips

 

Travelers arriving early for holiday travel at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte North Carolina
Pre-Holiday Crowd (credit: Randy Yagi)

 

Allow Yourself Extra Time For Thanksgiving Travel Crowds

For past Thanksgiving travel, you’ve allowed yourself 90 minutes to get through the airport. However, this year might be different. For one, the security lines may be much longer due to more people traveling. For another, the traffic getting to the airport might be busier than expected. By allowing yourself more time, you’ll significantly reduce the amount of stress you may have.

Travel Tip:

TSA has its own app – MyTSA – that can show you estimated wait times for your airport. For global security lines, there is MiFlight.

 

Related: Five Winter Driving Tips

 

Charge Your Devices Before Arriving For Your Thanksgiving Trip

Remember to charge any device you plan to bring for your flight. For instance, you should charge your smartphone and laptop. Are you bringing a tablet? If so, charge that too. On the other hand, you might not think this is all necessary. But then again, once you get to your boarding gate, will you find an electrical outlet that’s not being used?

 

There’s A Travel App For That

If you’re tech savvy but not already using your airline’s app, you should download it. All major airlines offer apps to check in to your flight, obtain a boarding pass and more. Indeed, these apps can be helpful to keep you updated on your flight. Specifically, you can track your flight’s arrival status, gate changes and more. Nevertheless, it’s always helpful to print out your boarding pass, in case your airport’s Wi-Fi is unreliable.

More On Travel Apps

Airline apps are among the many tools to use right on your smartphone. Indeed, you may also need a flight tracking app that’s more accurate than the airline. Many are available but the most favored for iOS/Android are FlightAware and Flightradar 24. Flight booking apps can also be installed in case of an emergency. Among the best for you are Skyscanner, Google Flights and Hopper.

 

Related: America’s Best Places For A Tropical Christmas

 

Pack Lightly For Thanksgiving Travel

You shouldn’t need more than a personal item and one carry on piece of luggage. After all, aren’t you visited friends or relatives for just a few days? Well before your flight, make a list of items you need to bring or what can stay home. For example, your list may include medications, toiletries and an extra pair of shoes. If practical, you might want to wait to purchase gifts after you get to your destination.

 

Related: Squaremouth Travel Insurance Trends For The 2021 Holiday Season

 

Wear Comfortable Clothing

Your items are packed and all set for the flight. But it’s also helpful to wear the comfortable clothing to the airport. For instance, you should wear comfortable shoes and a jacket. On the other hand, if you have to go through the general security line, don’t wear a belt or jacket with metal buttons. Besides, you don’t want to slow the line down nor do you want to walk in uncomfortable footwear.

Travel Tip:

If you’re carrying a water bottle, don’t forget to empty it before going through the TSA security line. By the same token, you should remove any liquid carry on items that TSA staff might flag. Don’t forget to bring a facemask(s) because it’s required inside a parking shuttle,, the airport and onboard. At the same time, you should also bring hand sanitizer.

 

Related: Five Reasons To Visit San Francisco This Winter

 

To Check In Or Not To Check In

Even if you are packed lightly, should you consider checking if your luggage? If you have complimentary bad check in, it might be a good idea. This is important is you are not in the first three groups to board the aircraft. If you’re not in an early boarding group, there may be no storage space left. What’s more, you could delay the flight by trying to find another compartment for your carry on.

Travel Tip:

On major airline apps, you can track your luggage via your smartphone. You can also track your bags via your web browser on a laptop.

 

Plan For The Unexpected Over The Thanksgiving Holiday

No one really enjoys a flight delay. Unfortunately, flight delays will happen and you can’t predict if yours will be on time. Moreover, there is an ongoing staff shortage, including flight crews and TSA officers. Do you have a backup plan in case your flight is delayed or worse yet, cancelled?

 

Flight Cancellations Are Possible

If spite of arriving early and doing everything right, your flight could get cancelled. In recent months, thousands of flights were cancelled due to staffing shortages. To be more specific, Southwest Airlines cancelled more than 2,000 flights last month. Similarly, American Airlines cancelled 2,400 flights.

 

What To Do If Your Thanksgiving Flight Is Cancelled

If your flight is cancelled, you have a couple of options. For one, you can check with airlines staff for a replacement flight. You could also rebook directly through your airline’s app or at a kiosk. If you are unable to rebook on a different flight, you are entitled to a refund. However, if you do opt for that, you must consider what additional costs.

Travel Tip:

Flying over the busy Thanksgiving holiday can be fun as it can be stressful. Should you purchase travel insurance in case something goes wrong? Does your credit card company have adequate protection? If you want to compare travel insurance plans, consider comparison sites like Squaremouth or insuremytrip.

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com.