Prepare to get to the airport early this Thanksgiving as this year is predicted to be the busiest ever for travelers.
According to new data from Airlines 4 America (A4A), an industry trade organization, an estimated 30.6 million passengers will board a U.S. airlines flight during the 12-day period around Thanksgiving. Last year, the number of travelers in the same period was about 29 million.
This year’s busiest day for travel is expected to be Sunday, Nov. 25, when an estimated 3.06 million people will board flights. Those flying from American airports on that day would be well advised to arrive early, especially if checking bags. Other particularly busy days during the Thanksgiving travel period are expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 21 and Friday, Nov. 16.
A4A predicts that there will be about 2.55 million passengers boarding flights around the country every single day from Friday, Nov. 16 through Tuesday, Nov. 27. That means travelers will have to battle 137,000 more people at the airport than they did last year.
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds during this travel period, airports will be their least crowded on Thanksgiving Day, when only an estimated 1.73 million passengers will fly.
This year’s record-high prediction is likely due to the fact that flights are cheaper than ever, according to A4A. When adjusted for inflation, data from the Department of Transportation shows that flights are available for less than ever before. Since 2010, average airfare has fallen about seven percent, according to the trade group. Cheap airfare is the perfect motivation for you — and the rest of the country — to jump on the next flight out of town.
A word to the wise: now might be the perfect time to finally invest in TSA PreCheck.