Get Ready for Thanksgiving Week Travel Crowds, They’re Going to be Big

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Holiday travelers near the TSA entrance at Terminal B, Philadelphia International Airport on the day before Thanksgiving, November 24, 2021.
Image via Alejandro A. Alvarez, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Holiday travelers near the TSA entrance at Terminal B, Philadelphia International Airport on the day before Thanksgiving, November 24, 2021.

If you’re thinking of flying in or out of Philadelphia sometime during Thanksgiving week, expect to share your air travel experience with about 867,000 other travelers, writes Erin McCarthy for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nationally, Thanksgiving week is expected to be the busiest travelers have seen in the past 20 years.

From Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 27, PHL expects about 362,300 passengers to come and go, according to spokesperson Shawn Hawes. 

For the entire holiday week, defined as Friday, Nov. 18, to Tuesday, Nov. 29, the total number reaches about 867,000 travelers.

That’s still 18 percent lower here in Philadelphia than during the last pre-pandemic Thanksgiving week in 2019, when the airport saw “a record-setting passenger volume year.”

Now that all pandemic restrictions have been lifted, train, bus and cruise ships are also seeing a big jump this Thanksgiving, with passengers up 23 percent over last year.

“Regardless of the mode of transportation you have chosen, expect crowds during your trip and at your destination,” said Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel. “If your schedule is flexible, consider off-peak travel times during the holiday rush.”

According to Axios, the busiest airport travel days are the two days before Thanksgiving and the weekend afterward.

PHL spokesperson Heather Redfern shared some tips to reduce holiday travel stress:

  • Arrive at least 2.5 hours before your boarding time for domestic flights and 3 hours before international flights.
  • Download airline apps or sign-up for email and text alerts ahead of time so you can track your flight status.
  • There’s limited space at garages and in the economy parking lot, so departing travelers are encouraged to arrange rides from family and friends, through a ride-share service or by using public transportation. If you must drive, consider parking off-site.
  • Motorists meeting passengers should wait in the Cell Phone Waiting Lot, which is about a minute away from arrivals.

For nursing moms, there are Mamava Pods throughout the airport and a new lactation station in the B/C food court.

  • Guests requiring extra help can pay a fee to book Sky Squad concierge service at least 24 hours ahead of their trips.

Read more about an expected uptick in Thanksgiving travel at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Here’s what the Thanksgiving travel scene looks like nationally.

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