Driving or Flying for the Thanksgiving Holiday? Here’s What You Can Do to Ease the Holiday Rush

Published on November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving is here and that means millions will be hitting the roads and skies, but before you can say your grace and stuff your face with a plate of turkey, here are a few tips to avoid those congested freeways and long airport lines.

Hitting the Roads? Don’t Drive the Night Before

The American Automobile Association (AAA) projects an estimated 4.3 million Southern Californians and over 55 million Americans will be traveling across the country over Thanksgiving. Making this year the second worst holiday traffic since 2005.

Data shows traveling the night before Thanksgiving is the worse time to hit the road, that is when traffic peaks. Just tune into last year’s annual 405 holiday gridlock, which Angelinos are all too familiar with.

“The big reason why we’re anticipating so many people traveling is strong economic fundamentals. Consumer spending remains high due to an increase in wages, an increase in household wealth, and an increase in disposable income,” said AAA spokesman Doug Shupe.

SoCal motorist can expect the worst traffic to be between 5 to 7 p.m., with traffic delays 3 1/2 times longer than usual.

The best decision you can make is either driving on Wednesday at 2 a.m.  or 6 a.m. Thursday morning, according to Google. And the best time to head back home is 3 a.m. Friday morning. 

Use Google’s “Mapping Thanksgiving” for the Best And Worst Time to be on the Road

The people over at Google Maps and Google News Lab have done us all a favor by providing us with driving data.

Google’s Mapping Thanksgiving site says, “We’re providing insight into the places people visit around the holidays and the best times to get on (or stay off) the road.”

Not only can users see the best driving times but also check when to go Black Friday Shopping, go out for some food and drinks, and by all means avoid buying a ham at noon Wednesday  before turkey day.

Users can check national and some city-specific times.

Hitting the skies? Fly Thanksgiving Day, But Expect Long Lines

No matter how hard you try lines are unavoidable, as the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) “is forecasting another record setting Thanksgiving holiday travel period this year, with an estimated 3.21 million passengers during the 14 days…that is roughly equivalent to 80% of the entire population of Los Angeles.”

LAX is reminding guests to plan accordingly and to give yourself additional time to reach the airport, to clear those long TSA lines and reach your gate. 

Just like driving early in the morning, if you can, the best day to fly is on Thanksgiving Day. Not only is the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) expecting the least amount of people, AAA says plane tickets will be the cheapest.

But on your way back LAX is expecting Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 to be even busiest. The airport is forecasts upwards of 246,000 passengers flying

Check Twitter Account “FlyLAXStats” For Airport Traffic 

Checkout twitter account @FlyLAXStats’s for updates on traffic and parking availability at CTA garages and economy Lot E. LAWA says, “the CTA and Lot E [parking garages] are expected to reach capacity during Thanksgiving holiday,” so monitor the website and twitter account.

Skip the Drive: Take a Shuttle or METRO 

With holiday travel almost setting a record this year, your best bet is to take a shuttle service to the airport such as FlyAway or public transportation.

LAX is expanding and augmenting its transportation with its LAX Holiday Shuttles, with rides to and from Santa Monica and Century City every day through Nov.24-Dec.2, 5 a.m. to midnight–except Thanksgiving day. Tickets are $10 one way. 

Passengers with boarding passes can use it as a ticket to get free train and bus rides starting Nov.24 through Dec. 2.

Passengers can get free rides on all METRO busses—the Big Blue Bus, Torrance Transit, and the Culver City. For more information on all METRO routes, click here.

Kevin Pichinte is a staff writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is a news associate at ABC7 and was formerly a digital news intern at NBC7 and TLM20. At Grit Daily, he covers entertainment and culture news.

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