Horrible Holiday Travel Season Underway

It looks like this year’s Thanksgiving holiday travel season will be even more frustrating than usual. Despite exorbitant ticket prices, airlines are more crowded than ever.

Airport Lines Are Already Busy (AP)

Lines are growing longer at the world’s busiest airport as holiday travelers fly out two days before Thanksgiving to be with family and friends. Many people at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport say they had no choice but to fly today because they were unable to get a ticket tomorrow, the day before Thanksgiving.

Today is considered the second busiest travel day of the Thanksgiving holiday in Atlanta, with Sunday being the busiest.

And a nice Nor’easter will muck it up for those who try to drive instead.

Weather set to cause Thanksgiving travel woes (MSNBC)

A strong storm off the East Coast was expected to bring heavy rain and light snow to the Northeast on Tuesday — a harbinger for the Thanksgiving holiday, when cold, snowy weather is forecast to create a deep freeze and travel problems. “The timing couldn’t be any worse,†said Bill Karins, a NBC Weather Plus meteorologist.

Many areas away from the coast could see snowfall amounts of 3 to 4 inches on Tuesday, while regions prone to lake-effect snow could see substantially more snow.


Eastern portions of the Midwest were expected to see below normal temperatures and a chance of snow showers Tuesday.
Thanksgiving Day snow and rain is in the forecast for New York City and Philadelphia, while extreme cold is expected Thursday in Ohio, New England and cities surrounding the Great Lakes.

Those conditions could cause highway gridlock as well as delays and even cancellations at major airport hubs. “There might be some delays, there might be some cancellations,†warned Tiffany Townsend, a spokesman for the New York Port Authority, which manages the region’s airports. By midday Tuesday, Newark, La Guardia and Boston’s Logan airports were seeing weather delays of up to nearly two hours.


The American Automobile Association estimates that some 3 million residents of the Northeast will drive or fly to Thanksgiving destinations. Nationally, AAA estimates that 37.29 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 0.8 percent increase from last year’s 37 million travelers. “Higher prices and sagging consumer confidence will make Thanksgiving travel growth a bit less robust this holiday, although airports and highways will be as busy as ever,†AAA President Robert Darbelnet said in a statement.


The combination of high ticket prices and the fact that two can drive cheaply as one has me on the roads again this year.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. M. Murcek says:

    Jeeze – this near depression economy is sure taking a toll…

  2. bryan says:

    There is something to be said for being 12 hours from any kin worth visiting.

  3. Richard Gardner says:

    Out West in the other Washington, the only Interstate E-W corridor, I-90, is down to 2 lanes total due to a rock slide at MP 58. Some models predict up to a 30-hour traffic jam (where is FEMA?), though most say 4-8 hour delays.

    The State Patrol Chief has asked people not to travel over the passes this Thanksgiving.

    So roads are sometimes not an option either.

  4. Josh Cohen says:

    On Monday afternoon, we were only delayed 45 minutes coming out of Atlanta — since schools are out all week, most people held their kids out of school on Friday as well so they could leave on Thursday. Thursday traffic was horrendous. Monday night, though, a windstorm in Atlanta delayed flights up to three hours. Craziness.

    Amusing story: at Ft Lauderdale airport, the “warning, your luggage is about to start coming down the ramp” alarm isn’t a bell or a buzzer. It’s the macarena.