Traveling this Thanksgiving? Expect the roads and airports to be significantly more crowded than last year, thanks in part to an improving economy.
Roughly 42.2 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from their home this holiday, according to AAA. That's 11.4 percent more than last year.
To help avoid car trouble and unnecessary delays during holiday travel, AAA recommends drivers check their tire treads, tire pressure, wiper blades and battery connections.
While the vast majority of those travelers will be driving, it's those who take to the skies that often deal with the most headaches and heartache. Sure, nobody likes bumper-to-bumper traffic, but would you rather be stuck in traffic in your car or having airport security do a thorough pat-down of your privates?
Besides, it seems that every year the rules of the airport change ever so slightly. (Most people drive every day and the rules of the road really don't change.)
And for fliers, there is some good news: the government is once again opening up some military air space to help speed commercial flights.
So with all that in mind, we reached out to Genevieve Shaw Brown, senior editor at Travelocity to answer seven commonly-asked questions about flying during Thanksgiving.
#1: May I Bring My Turkey?
The short answer here is yes, though you might get some strange looks at security. Keep in mind, however, your turkey (or whatever other food you bring on the aircraft) must be part of your carry-on luggage and must not take up more than the free one bag and one carry-on item allotted by every domestic airline except Spirit (which charges for carry-on luggage). Remember, though, that the TSA still allows no more than 3 ounces of liquid in any one container, so your turkey cannot be soaking in brine, getting itself ready for dinner at grandma's house.
#2: How Long Do I Really Need to Get Though Security?
Provided you have checked in online before your flight (see question three), you can arrive at security one hour before your domestic flight and most likely be just fine. But, just to be on the safe side, you might want to leave yourself an extra half-hour during a busy travel weekend like Thanksgiving. If you choose not to check in online, arrive at the airport at least two hours before your departure time to be ready for long lines at the check-in counter, which are in addition to the lines at security. Arrive at the airport two hours before all international flights.
#3: How Do I Make Sure I Don't Get Bumped From My Flight?
There is no guaranteed way to avoid getting bumped, but there are certainly ways to minimize your chances. First and foremost, reserve a seat when you purchase your flight online, rather than letting one be randomly assigned to you at a later date. Next, check in online on your carrier's website up to 24 hours before your flight. Often, when a flight is oversold and no one is willing to give up their seat, the airline will bump the person or people who checked in last. Finally, get to the gate as early as possible (see question two; this is when that extra half-hour might come in handy) and reconfirm your seat with the gate agent.
#4: What If I Miss My Connection?