Thanksgiving holiday set to be busiest travel week in decade


NEW BERN, Craven County - If you're flying ahead of Thanksgiving weekend, be sure to pack your patience. This week is expected to be one of the busiest travel weeks in over a decade.

AAA has predicted that more than 51 million Americans are expected to travel for the upcoming holiday and many of them will be flooding their local airports.

"It's gonna be the biggest Thanksgiving air travel season in 10 years," Andy Shorter, Director of Coastal Carolina Regional Airport, said. "People should expect to confront busy airports."

Nearly 4 million people will take to the skies ahead of Thanksgiving, AAA predicted in a recent study. This is a five percent growth from last year, which means travelers should be prepared for some serious traffic.

"Arrive early, pack light, travel in comfortable clothes and have as much patience as you can," Director Shorter said.

Sean Trainor is one of those millions of travelers. He is flying from New Orleans to New Bern to see his parents for the holiday. He has already faced the crowds while connecting flights in Charlotte.

"It was very busy," Trainor said. "At lunch time there were a lot of people coming through. The airport was definitely busier than the morning in New Orleans."

Trainor also said he noticed an increase in security around the airports.

"TSA was very attentive. I did get an extra check, even more than just the metal detector check," Trainor said. "There seemed to be a lot of extra random checks going on -- more so than just everyone passing through the metal detector today."

To combat the long lines and extra security, Director Shorter said that travelers should check in for their flights the night before.

"You really don't have a ticket until you have a boarding pass, so you can reserve and reservation basically on that flight, but once you check in and have your boarding pass, that technically is your ticket and I think a lot of people don't understand that," Director Shorter said.

The most important piece of advice Director Shorter can give at a time like this is to arrive to the airport early.

"Please, this weekend, if there is any time to be early at the airport, use the airline recommended guidelines and get to the airport on time, so that will take one of the stressors out of your potential travel," Director Shorter said.

If you can, Director Shorter said to avoid traveling on Wednesday and Sunday, as crowds are expected to peak during those days. For extra peace-of-mind, travelers have the option to download the app for the airline they are flying with to reeive push alerts with updated information about their flights and luggage.

Trainor said that he was glad he made the trip early and get home to his loved ones in time to cut the turkey.

"It's the best feeling -- this is the only place I want to be," Trainor said.