How Central Texans can prepare for busy week of Thanksgiving travel

AAA Texas expects 3.9 million Texans will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)
AAA Texas expects 3.9 million Texans will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)

AAA Texas expects 3.9 million Texans will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)

The Thanksgiving holiday is shaping up to be a busy one, according to data from AAA Texas. The 3.9 million Texans expected to travel from Nov. 24-28 represents a 12% increase over 2020 and 6% decrease compared to 2019.

Texans should prepare for busy airports and roads during the holiday week, according to a Nov. 9 AAA Texas press release.

“This Thanksgiving roadways, airports and cruise ports will be much busier than last year,” said Kent Livesay, a vice president and general manager at AAA Texas, in the press release. “An increasing number of vaccinated people as well as new safety and health guidelines have helped to build consumer confidence and put people more at ease to start traveling again.”

For Central Texans, both the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the Texas Department of Transportation have echoed the need for travelers to be prepared during the busy week.

Getting to the airport early


Officials with ABIA are advising all passengers, including those with Transportation Security Administration PreCheck and Clear, to arrive at least three hours prior to their flights throughout the holiday week.

“The nationwide trend for forward bookings around this Thanksgiving holiday are up about 3.2% from 2019 (i.e. pre-pandemic) levels, and we expect to see similar trends in demand at [ABIA],” said Bryce Dubee, a senior public information specialist at the airport, in an email.

The airport, which set a record for single-day passenger count with 35,298 travelers Oct. 25 following the Formula 1 race, expects several days with over 30,000 passengers going through TSA security, Dubee said. Nov. 21 and Nov. 24 are likely to be the busiest, but he added that the airport will likely be busy through Nov. 29.

Travelers with flights before 9 a.m. in particular should allow plenty of time for parking, checking luggage and passing through security, according to a Nov. 17 airport press release. Travelers planning to park on-site can reserve a space at www.abiaparking.com.

Face masks are also still required in the airport; the TSA extended the requirement through Jan. 18.

Keeping the roads safe

TxDOT is urging drivers to ensure they take safety precautions when making trips of all lengths.

“Drive to conditions, don’t drink and drive and avoid distractions while behind the wheel. It’s also important to always buckle up, whether you’re taking a long journey or just a short trip across town,” said Brad Wheelis, a public information officer with TxDOT, in an email.

AAA Texas expects to receive around 17,000 calls along Texas roadways for help over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to a press release.

Stranded drivers can also call 512-974-4376 for assistance, Wheelis said. The Highway Emergency Response Operator patrols 138 miles of I-35, US 183, Hwy. 290, SH 71 and MoPac. Drivers can look up conditions before hitting the road at www.drivetexas.org.

Texans can also expect to pay approximately $1.15 to $1.25 more for gas than last year, according to a Nov. 18 AAA Texas press release.
By Benton Graham

Metro Reporter, Austin

Benton joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter covering transportation in Central Texas in June 2021. Benton's writing has appeared in Vox, The Austin Chronicle, Austonia and Reporting Texas. Originally from Minneapolis, Benton graduated from William & Mary and eventually moved to Austin in 2018.



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