Last Minute Thanksgiving Travel Advice

Follow these four easy steps and you’ll be just fine. Really.

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney with more smart tips.

1. Leave twice as early as usual.

How early to leave for the airport is a difficult question to answer but we suggest twice as early. If you normally head to the airport one hour ahead of time, make it two hours at Thanksgiving.

Don’t go through all this effort and expense only to cut it too fine and miss your flight. Worst case scenario: You sit around for a while. This is why they invented electronic devices, trashy novels and whining children – so you won’t be bored. More on whining children in #3.

2. Tie up loose ends online

  • Print out boarding pass: Yes, we know you can easily put this on your phone but get a paper copy, too. Electronic devices have been known to die at inconvenient moments.
  • Purchase bag fees: You could wait to do this at the airport kiosk but the airport will be packed with people trying to do the same thing. Save time (and maybe some sanity) by doing this at home. Better yet, use a carry-on and pay no fee at all.*
  • Contact information: Make sure the airline has yours plus contact information for any relatives who may be picking you up. It could save time if you have to let someone know your flight is delayed.

* Allegiant, Frontier or Spirit do charge for regular-size carry-ons.

3. Pack this stuff.

Place the following items where they are easy to get at, either on your person or in a carry-on.

  • Charging cords: For all your electronics.
  • Credit card: Airlines don’t take cash anymore.
  • Food: What if a late flight gets delayed and shops and restaurants are closed?
  • Bribes: If traveling with children (who may or may not be whiney), there’s nothing like chocolate to insure good behavior.

Final food tip: Do not bring gloppy or gooey food; it may not get past security.

4. Please be patient.

If there are problems with your flight, be polite to the airline representatives. For one thing, they didn’t make the plane late and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that nice passengers just might get a little more help than angry, screaming passengers.


Updated: November 24, 2014