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TSA Expects Record Number of Passengers This Thanksgiving

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James Larounis

James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
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Juan Ruiz

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Countries Visited: 40U.S. States Visited: 27

Juan has been involved in credit cards, loyalty, travel, and personal finance for more than 10 years. He has worked for several outlets including The Points Guy and Forbes and was previously Editor-in...

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Unsurprisingly, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects a record number of passengers to pass through its checkpoints this Thanksgiving season. With COVID-19 restrictions gone, travelers are out in full force getting back to visiting family and friends, and the next 2 weeks will prove to be among some of the busiest the agency has seen.

Record Numbers

With many workers able to do their jobs remotely, the Thanksgiving travel week has progressively gotten longer in recent years. This year, the increased travel season is expected to start on Friday, November 17, and run through Tuesday, November 28, when the TSA expects to screen over 30 million passengers!

Looking at the busiest days, there are 3 with staggeringly high projections:

  • November 21, with 2.6 million passengers
  • November 22, with 2.7 million passengers
  • November 26, with 2.9 million passengers, expected to be the busiest travel day during Thanksgiving week
Image Credit: Appleton International Airport

Tips for Traveling Smart

There are lots of things you can do to help you travel seamlessly this month, even with the large crowds!

  • Have your ID and boarding pass ready — ensuring these items are in hand will help the line move much faster through the checkpoint!
  • Consider using TSA PreCheck or CLEAR. Both services are designed to expedite your screening process.
  • Empty your bags! If you’ve got liquids, take them out. Consider having a pouch or separate bag of just the items you’ll need to take out during the screening process, including electronics or liquids.
  • Don’t cut it close! Arrive at the airport within plenty of time of departure. Generally, it’s recommended to arrive 3 hours prior for international flights and 2 hours prior for domestic flights, but you may want to consider arriving even earlier over the next 2 weeks.
Hot Tip:

To avoid the busy travel season, travel before Friday, November 17 or after Tuesday, November 28. If you have flexibility in your schedule, you can avoid the mad rush at the airports!

Final Thoughts

The TSA is expected to see record numbers of travelers this Thanksgiving, but there are many things you can do to make your travel journey without hassle. Remember to follow the TSA’s guidance on removing prohibited items from your bags and have your ID to make your screening process even easier!

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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