NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – This week, a record number of travelers will hit the roads and skies, so it might be tougher than usual to get to your Thanksgiving dinner worry-free.
The Transportation Security Administration is preparing for the busiest travel season they’ve ever seen, which could mean even longer lines at the airport.
“We think we will probably, likely to screen about 27 million passengers nationwide during that period,” said Lisa Farbstein of the TSA.
At Newark Liberty International Airport they expect to screen around 70,000 people a day during the Thanksgiving holiday, about 10,000 more passengers per day than normal.
The TSA says the agency is all hands on deck this week, but they’re asking passengers to plan ahead, get there early, and follow instructions of TSA officers.
Web Extra: TSA Officials Offer Thanksgiving Travel Tips
“The last thing a TSA officer wants to do, I can assure you, is a patdown. So the TSA officers want to make sure you get through the checkpoint smoothly, and efficiently,” Farbstein said. “So what does that mean? Get here early. It’s going to be crowded. The terminal’s going to be congested. It’s going to take longer on the roadways, it’s gonna take longer to park your car, longer to check your bag, longer to get your boarding pass, longer to get your Starbucks. So you can expect the line to be long at the TSA checkpoint as well.”
As for what Thanksgiving food you can bring on board a plane: Stuffing, sweet potatoes, marshmallows can all be brought in a carry-on bag, but gravy, cranberry sauce and wine need to go in checked bags.
“Basically the rule of thumb is, if it’s a solid it can go in your carry-on bag,” Farbstein said. “If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, it should go in your checked bag.”
The TSA recommends getting to the airport two hours early for domestic flights and three hours before an international flight.
#Thanksgiving week, means airports are super busy. It's just one more reason that you should not bring prohibited items to #TSA checkpoints. A guy brought this hunting knife to @EWRairport this morning. C'mon man, you're slowing down the line and ticking off fellow travelers. pic.twitter.com/EErJoYoh3r
— TSAmedia_LisaF (@TSAmedia_LisaF) November 25, 2019
Monday morning, TSA agents at Newark stopped a traveler who tried to bring a hunting knife through a TSA checkpoint.
“C’mon man, you’re slowing down the line and ticking off fellow travelers,” Farbstein wrote on Twitter.
Travelers will contend with more than just crowds this week. Nasty weather in other parts of the country could cause chaos for travelers here.
CBS travel expert Peter Greenberg says don’t wait until the airlines send an alert — it’s better to call them.
“And say, ‘look, I know there’s weather coming in. I know there’s going to be an alert. I don’t want to be 95th person in line to get that alert. Can you please look at your schedule, and rebook me on the following flights?'” Greenberg said.
Our travel expert says the best days to fly this week are Thanksgiving morning and Black Friday, when everybody else is out shopping.
FOR THOSE HITTING THE ROAD
AAA predicts 55 million people will travel more than 50 miles for the holiday this week, the second highest volume since 2000.
Robert Sinclair, of AAA Northeast, says 49.3 million people will drive and 4.4 million will fly – both up about 3% over last year.
Web Extra: AAA’s Robert Sinclair on Thanksgiving travel
“The economy is good, people have disposable income, and generally we have more money in our pockets. We like to celebrate by taking a trip during the Thanksgiving holiday, a built-in day off, and we make the most of it. Americans have the fewest number of vacation days of any workers in the entire industrialized world,” he told CBSN New York.
Sinclair suggests waking up early on Thanksgiving morning and driving to your destination instead of joining everyone else who is getting off work and hitting the road Wednesday afternoon.
Tuesday or Thursday morning are the best times to travel, but Wednesday afternoon will be the worst.
“Make sure your vehicle is in good shape before you hit the road. We’re anticipating 368,000 break-downs for AAA members from Wednesday until Sunday – flat tires, dead batteries, and lockouts the top items. People have these key fobs and they get locked out of their vehicles,” Sinclair said. “Also, safety is very important. Don’t drink and drive, don’t drug and drive, wear your seatbelt, don’t speed. It’s going to be very busy on the roads, there will be a lot of police out there.”
Sinclair also says gas prices are up about 2 cents per gallon nationwide, compared to last year. In Connecticut, however, prices are down 18 cents.
LaGuardia Airport (LGA):
John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK):
Newark Airport (EWR):