Traveling for turkey day? Expect the airport to be very busy

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, November 21, 2023

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The Transport Security Administration (TSA) expects this year’s holiday season to be the busiest travel time ever, according to a press release they put out Monday.

This comes after a record year in air travel. In 2023, TSA has recorded seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in its history. The organization expects the largest numbers to come on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after.

With Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) being the closest international and domestic airport for local VTN readers, timing is especially a factor. The car ride from the Valley-Times News office in Lanett to Atlanta is around an hour and 15 minutes, depending on traffic. With the season’s busyness, and of Atlanta airport in general, travelers should make sure they leave well before their flight.

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In the press release, the TSA provided some tips for travelers to do before arriving at the airport:

-Arrive Early: It is recommended to arrive at least two hours before the departure time of your flight. Travelers should make sure to factor in the time to the airport as well as parking and security once they arrive.

-Pack smart: Know what can and can’t go in a carry-on or checked bag before you get to the security checkpoint. If unsure, the administration has a list of prohibited items called “What Can I Bring” on

-Bring acceptable identification, and have it out while in the screening lane.

-If you have TSA PreCheck make sure it is on your ticket: While PreCheck is often faster than other checkpoints, there will likely be a longer wait this year due to the number of travelers and increase in PreCheck registration in 2023. If you are a PreCheck member, it must be indicated on your boarding pass.

-Travelers with specific needs or needing extra assistance moving through the airport must request assistance 72 hours before traveling. This is done through the TSA Cares helpline toll-free at 855-787-2227.

As for those traveling on the roadways, congestion should also be expected there, especially in and around metro areas. AAA 2023 Thanksgiving Travel Forcast predicts almost 50 million drivers on the road during the holiday. 

“For many Americans, Thanksgiving and travel go hand in hand, and this holiday, we expect more people on the roads, skies, and seas compared to 2022,” said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel.

The company suggests leaving earlier, before 10 a.m. or after rush hour at 5 p.m., is the most efficient way to get to your Thanksgiving destinations. 

AAA says the cost of flying has risen from 2022 by 5%. The good news is some of the costs of travel have gone down this year, with average domestic hotel and rental car prices down 12% and 20% respectively. Gas prices have also decreased since last year.