This year is projected to be one of the busiest Thanksgivings in a dozen years for travelers. Whether you’re driving, flying or sitting on the couch and waiting for relatives to come to visit, here’s what you need to know about one of the busiest travel times of the year.
Nearly 51 million people will travel for Thanksgiving this year, the highest volume in nearly a dozen years, according to AAA projections. Due to the high travel volume, up 3.3 percent from 2016 with 1.6 million more people, travel times could take up to three times longer than normal.
The Thanksgiving holiday had the most car accidents in 2014, the most recent year for which data was available, with 2,878 accidents from Nov. 26 to Nov. 30 in Illinois. Thirteen were fatal crashes, four of which were alcohol related.
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Illinois State Police announced several campaigns aimed at keeping roadways safe over the holiday. Illinois State Police are running their Click It or Ticket campaign, which aims to reduce injuries and deaths during car crashes by reminding motorists to wear a seat belt. ISP will be stepping up patrols and seat belt enforcement zones through Nov. 27, according to an ISP press release.
ISP will also have a trooper places every 20 miles on interstates 55, 57 and 80 on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m, a press release from ISP said. On Thursday and over the weekend, troopers will be enforcing the “Fatal Four” violations; speeding, DUI, distracted driving and seat belts.
“There is a direct correlation between driving while intoxicated, lack of proper restraint use, distracted driving, and reckless operation of an automobile when related to traffic fatalities,” ISP Captain Timothy Tyler said.
Meanwhile Lambert International Airport in St. Louis anticipated one of the busiest holiday travel periods in years, and launched a new Starbucks in Terminal 2 in preparation — the seventh Starbucks location in the two-terminal airport.
Lambert projected a 7 percent increase in the 10-day Thanksgiving travel period, according to their website. The airport predicted approximately 175,500 passengers will pass through the security checkpoints between Nov. 17-26, a 12,000-passenger increase over the usual rate.
The day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are generally predicted as the heaviest days for airlines, with 21,000 Friday check-ins and 23,400 Sunday departures. Flights are expected to run at 90 percent capacity or higher, and connecting traffic is 30 percent higher than usual this year.
In fact, the largest growth in holiday travel this year is by air: 5 percent, with 3.95 million travelers this holiday, according to AAA. Consumers also will be paying the cheapest average airfare since 2013. Approximately 50.9 million people will travel more than 50 miles from home by some transportation method, AAA predicts.
And once again, the two top destinations for Thanksgiving are Orlando, Fla. and Anaheim, Calif.
The Transportation Security Administration is recommending that passengers arrive two hours before scheduled boarding time, especially if checking luggage or taking an international flight. TSA guidelines for what can and cannot be brought through security checkpoints can be found on their website, as well as appropriate forms of identification and whether to wrap holiday gifts carried through security (in short: no.).
Picking up a passenger at Lambert? Use a free cell phone lot instead of the parking garage. And whether you’re flying or you’re picking up tired relatives, you can check flight status at Lambert on their website.
For more tips on cheap and stress-free travel, check out these holiday tips.