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VOL. 129 | NO. 225 | Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Lance Wiedower

Handling the Stress of Thanksgiving Air Travel

By Lance Wiedower

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Do you plan on traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday? You’re not alone, as Airlines for America has projected 24.6 million passengers will travel globally on U.S. airlines during the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period.

Extending from Friday, Nov. 21, through Tuesday, Dec. 2, the Thanksgiving air travel period this year will see a slight increase compared to the same period last year, the airline industry trade organization reported.

If you’re flying the friendly skies for the Thanksgiving holiday, you can expect crowded air terminals, longer security lines and an extended wait for your coffee at Starbucks. The increase in passengers this Thanksgiving season means some 31,000 additional passengers per day will crowd planes.

And if you have flights booked for Sunday, Nov. 30; Monday, Dec. 1; or Wednesday, Nov. 26, good luck. Those are the three busiest travel days, in order. The lightest travel days are projected to be Thursday, Nov. 27, and Friday, Nov. 28, so if you can travel on Turkey Day or Black Friday, then congratulations are in order.

No airport anywhere near Tennessee made the list of the projected busiest airports for Thanksgiving 2014, so leaving home shouldn’t be the problem. But if you find yourself flying to or connecting through Los Angeles International, Chicago O’Hare International or John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, just remember that patience is a virtue. Those are projected to be the three busiest airports this Thanksgiving season, according to the annual Orbitz Insider Index.

Rounding out the 10 busiest airports will be San Francisco International, Boston Logan International, Newark Liberty International, Sea-Tac International, Minneapolis-St. Paul International, Philadelphia International and Ronald Reagan National.

The Orbitz Insider Index analyzes booking data from the top 50 U.S. airports over the Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 26 through Dec. 1). Not surprisingly, Memphis, Nashville and Little Rock aren’t on the list. Even Denver, which should be busy enough with the ski crowd taking advantage of the long holiday, doesn’t make the list, either.

It’s one list a city probably doesn’t want to be on. But if you find yourself flying in or out of one of these busy airports over Thanksgiving, these pointers might help keep your stress level manageable.

• Travel Light: If you fly much, you probably already try to avoid the checked luggage fees when possible. But during a hectic holiday travel season, traveling with just a carry-on bag means the airline won’t lose your luggage and you won’t have to worry about long lines at the check-in counter.

• Print Boarding Passes: Of course you want to avoid the check-in counter altogether and print your boarding pass at home or at the kiosk located in airport terminals. If you do have to check a bag, bring a few singles for a tip and let curbside bag check take care of your luggage.

• Arrive Early: It’s become old hat since 2001, but what once was a rule to arrive two hours early now has become a very loose suggestion. I usually arrive an hour or so before a flight and have enough time to make it through security, at least in smaller airports. But when flying during the busiest time of the year, I’d definitely arrive a couple of hours early.

Managing editor Lance Wiedower’s column appears every other Tuesday in The Daily News and The Memphis News. For more travel inspiration, read his blog at tripsbylance.com or follow him on Twitter at @tripsbylance.

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