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View Full Version : Air Travel the day before Thanksgiving


Tina
11-07-2009, 08:40 AM
I swore I would never do this, but this year I'm actually flying on the day before Thanksgiving. We'll be leaving on a 3pm flight from Washington Dulles to Florida (not Disney, unfortunately). I've already made arrangements for someone to drop off/pick us up so we don't need to deal with the parking issue. I'm now I'm just unsure of how early we should get there. I expect lines to be long and chaotic. How early should we arrive for a 3pm flight? I was thinking about noon? Once we're through security, we could sit and eat lunch in the terminal, waiting for our flight. Thoughts? Suggestions?

OKW Lover
11-07-2009, 09:21 AM
As you're probably aware, this is one of the busiest travel days of the year. You're right about getting to the airport early and I don't think 3 hours early is excessive on that date.

Security will be a major issue since most of the folks flying that day are once a year type fliers who don't know the screening routine so they will have to be told several times to remove their shoes, etc. Just be early and go with the flow.

NC State
11-07-2009, 10:55 AM
We're thinking of traveling to WDW the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Is this a bad idea?

OKW Lover
11-07-2009, 01:00 PM
Traveling to WDW is never a bad idea. :thumbsup2

The airport will be very busy on that Sunday because of all the people returning home after Thanksgiving with family. Allow yourself a lot of extra time to go through security at the airport.

Hannathy
11-07-2009, 01:21 PM
The Sunday after Thanksgiving used to be the busiest day for flying of the year! Not sure recently but if it isn't then it is close! I will not fly on this day unless absolutely not poosible to fly any other day! I avoid it like the plague. Everything will be packed, roads, terminals, counters, gates, planes, baggage, and on top of this the vast majority are inexperienced leisure travelers:scared1:

Now add in planes are packed so slow loading so turn around is screwed up, Towers are busy, every scheduled flight is going out, all equipment is being used so if there is a mechanical problem there are no extra planes or crews. And if that isn't enough guess when Thanksgiving is ? Yep end of November so we have sleet, snow and ice to contend with. Throw de-icing a plane into the overly booked gate schedule and look out!!!
The day before Thanksgiving is almost but not quite as bad as far as amount of people because some do get away a bit earlier but everyone wants to go back to work or school on Monday. The weather part is true tho for the before.

prncess674
11-07-2009, 01:41 PM
The security check point moved about a month ago to downstairs and I don't think they have all the kinks worked out. Also since security is downstairs you can't see how long the security line really is. If it is super busy downstairs they hold people upstairs in the old queue area. The biggest problem with IAD security in my opinion is all security is at one point. IAD is notorious for long lines and surly TSA staff. I agree that being in line to check your luggage 3 hours prior to departure isn't a terrible idea. Just go with a zen attitude and be prepared to wait in long lines for everything and assume that every seat will be filled.

Be sure to check in online, pay any luggage fees, select seats and print boarding passes so all you have to do at the airport is get your bags tagged. If the skycaps are out, pay the extra fee to have them take your checked bags curbsides. It is worth it to not have to wait in the long lines inside.

If traveling with kids be sure to bring along extra snacks and small toys to entertain them with at the airport. IAD is still rather cramped on the concourses so there doesn't seem to be a lot of room to spread out and roam for little ones.

NC State
11-07-2009, 01:42 PM
[QUOTE=Hannathy;34243670] The day before Thanksgiving is almost but not quite as bad as far as amount of people because some do get away a bit earlier but everyone wants to go back to work or school on Monday. /QUOTE]

I wonder if Friday, the day after would be better. Thanks for the information.

Tina
11-07-2009, 01:50 PM
The security check point moved about a month ago to downstairs and I don't think they have all the kinks worked out. Also since security is downstairs you can't see how long the security line really is. If it is super busy downstairs they hold people upstairs in the old queue area. The biggest problem with IAD security in my opinion is all security is at one point. IAD is notorious for long lines and surly TSA staff. I agree that being in line to check your luggage 3 hours prior to departure isn't a terrible idea. Just go with a zen attitude and be prepared to wait in long lines for everything and assume that every seat will be filled.

Be sure to check in online, pay any luggage fees, select seats and print boarding passes so all you have to do at the airport is get your bags tagged. If the skycaps are out, pay the extra fee to have them take your checked bags curbsides. It is worth it to not have to wait in the long lines inside.

If traveling with kids be sure to bring along extra snacks and small toys to entertain them with at the airport. IAD is still rather cramped on the concourses so there doesn't seem to be a lot of room to spread out and roam for little ones.

They did what??? I haven't flown out of IAD since mid August. I had no idea they moved security. I can't even imagine where they moved it to? Its not like there's a lot of room down there either (unless this was part of the past decade plus of construction). So now after going through the lower level, we have to go back up to the shuttles?? That's just bizarre. I can only guess this is the first stage of changes in anticipation of the underground trains being constructed (will they ever be done??).

We're flying Jetblue (no bag fees, yah!) and intend to use the curbside bag check (as well as checking in online). My friend will have her 8 year old daughter with us, so she'll have the Nintendo DS in tow.

Tina
11-07-2009, 01:58 PM
Ok, so I went over to the IAD website and it sounds like this may be a good thing!

Previously, passengers entered security screening from the Ticket Counter (Departures) level of the Main Terminal. With the new Security Screening Mezzanine, the number of security entrances have been expanded on each level:


Ticket Counter (Departures) level: Two security screening entrances, each marked "TO ALL GATES."

Baggage Claim (Arrivals) level: Two security screening entrances, also marked "TO ALL GATES." This is a convenient option for passengers with pre-printed boarding passes and no checked baggage. The entrances are located near bag claim numbers 4 and 12.

So it sounds like there are double the security check points now. That could be a very good thing for holiday travel!

prncess674
11-07-2009, 01:59 PM
They did what??? I haven't flown out of IAD since mid August. I had no idea they moved security. I can't even imagine where they moved it to? Its not like there's a lot of room down there either (unless this was part of the past decade plus of construction). So now after going through the lower level, we have to go back up to the shuttles?? That's just bizarre. I can only guess this is the first stage of changes in anticipation of the underground trains being constructed (will they ever be done??).

We're flying Jetblue (no bag fees, yah!) and intend to use the curbside bag check (as well as checking in online). My friend will have her 8 year old daughter with us, so she'll have the Nintendo DS in tow.

It moved September 15th and I think it is a hug clusterf&*@. You still check in at the same desks but behind the desks are escalators down to the level where the new trains will one day depart.

My advice is deep breathing and a cocktail. :rotfl: There is a great wine bar called Vino Volo that serves great wines by the glass.
http://www.vinovolo.com/visitdetail.php?store=1

prncess674
11-07-2009, 02:07 PM
Ok, so I went over to the IAD website and it sounds like this may be a good thing!

Previously, passengers entered security screening from the Ticket Counter (Departures) level of the Main Terminal. With the new Security Screening Mezzanine, the number of security entrances have been expanded on each level:


Ticket Counter (Departures) level: Two security screening entrances, each marked "TO ALL GATES."

Baggage Claim (Arrivals) level: Two security screening entrances, also marked "TO ALL GATES." This is a convenient option for passengers with pre-printed boarding passes and no checked baggage. The entrances are located near bag claim numbers 4 and 12. So it sounds like there are double the security check points now. That could be a very good thing for holiday travel!There are not double the screening areas. All this is saying that you can enter the screening area from two different points. Think of the screening level as being sandwiched between ticketing counter and baggage claim and you can enter from either level. You enter baggage claim if you are coming from the parking garage so you don't have to go to up to ticketing if you don't have bags to check, you can just head to screening. Trust me it has not been a smooth transition. Even if they doubled the amount of lanes they didn't hire double the staff to man them.

Tina
11-07-2009, 02:12 PM
Ewwwwww... now I see. So what you're saying is, in addition to the typical holiday chaos, I will be dealing with lost, confused and disgruntled passengers not aware of this change. Grand! I think I'll opt to arrive at 11am instead of 12!!

However, according to the website, the train platform is supposed to open in 2009 and is currently is a testing phase. I'll love when that happens. I hate those shuttles.

prncess674
11-07-2009, 02:18 PM
Ewwwwww... now I see. So what you're saying is, in addition to the typical holiday chaos, I will be dealing with lost, confused and disgruntled passengers not aware of this change. Grand! I think I'll opt to arrive at 11am instead of 12!!

However, according to the website, the train platform is supposed to open in 2009 and is currently is a testing phase. I'll love when that happens. I hate those shuttles.I'm not holding my breath that the trains will be operational in 2009. They were supposed to be operational before the 9/15 new security screening opening. They were in "testing" on 9/15 also.

It will be a major mess. That Wednesday will almost certainly fall into an overflow day so what will happen is they won't let people enter from the baggage claim level since the overflow area is on the ticketing level. Trust me, whoever designed IAD should be drawn and quartered for stupidity.

Tina
11-07-2009, 02:22 PM
I don't know why they couldn't have looked at BWI and said "Hey, let's build something like THAT!." Instead we have something as ridiculous, complex, confusing (and likely over-budget) as our government. I guess its to be expected, given the location. :rolleyes:

Hannathy
11-07-2009, 02:35 PM
I have found that actually traveling ON the holiday can be the least crowded.


The day before is crowded but not the zoo the Sunday after is.

Tina
11-07-2009, 04:08 PM
I have found that actually traveling ON the holiday can be the least crowded.


The day before is crowded but not the zoo the Sunday after is.

I agree about traveling on the holiday. Unfortunately for us, we are taking a cruise that is leaving on Thanksgiving. I'm not willing to risk a same day flight.

As for flying down to Disney after the holiday, I have gone down on Saturday before and it was just fine. Like a normal travel day. We stayed out of the parks that first day and hit them on Sunday instead. We found the place nearly deserted (in comparison to the holiday crowd) by Sunday afternoon. Of course, this was several years ago, before many caught on to the post-holiday crowd levels.

kaytieeldr
11-07-2009, 05:13 PM
I have found that actually traveling ON the holiday can be the least crowded.


The day before is crowded but not the zoo the Sunday after is.
Yes on both counts. I flew home from Las Vegas Christmas night 2008. The plane was exactly 1/3 full, meaning any passenger who wanted could have their own entire three-seat row ;)

And Hannathy is correct about that Sunday as well (naturally). The day before Thanksgiving used to be the busiest travel day, but people started traveling earlier and earlier in an effort to avoid the huge crowds. But everybody, it seems, needs to get home on Sunday.

Missytara
11-09-2009, 09:03 AM
I go to Disney the week after Thanksgiving. A few years, I flew out on that Sunday, very, very early. It wasn't too bad.

The last two years, I left on Saturday and it is much more manageable. In addition, they are moving most of the people out of the resorts on Saturday, so the ME buses are running constantly. You don't have to wait very long to get to the resort, but you do wait awhile for your room. Good trade off....

Missytara
11-09-2009, 01:59 PM
That Sunday is crowded, because you not only have the people traveling home from the holidays, but anyone who normally flies to their job will be trying to get to their destination as well.