More than 53 million Americans are expected to travel this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, and experts are predicting significant crowds on the roads and at airports nationwide, including Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Here's how to prepare for the expected throng.
If you're flying — and some 4.2 million people will be, across the United States — arrive at least two hours ahead of a domestic flight, and three hours before boarding an international flight. Seriously.
The busiest days at the airport are expected to be Wednesday and Sunday, bookending Thanksgiving. The busiest times of day are 5 to 7 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m., according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Remember to factor in the time it takes to park and to stand in line at the baggage checks and TSA checkpoints before you leave for the airport. You can check here to see current wait times and parking availability at MSP, or download the TSA app to check and post on wait times at airports nationwide. Try prebooking parking at Terminal 1. Check the status of your flight before leaving for the airport — airline service has been fraught with cancellations and rescheduled itineraries in recent months. Make sure your identification is current.
Per federal regulations, you must wear a mask at the airport and on board aircraft.
Bring an extra mask, just in case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that unvaccinated people delay travel until they're fully vaccinated. Here's everything you need to know about MSP's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, called the Travel Confidently MSP Program.
Here's a list of food that you can pack in carry-on luggage clearing security. Remember, nothing watery (read: no gravy). TSA says the rule of thumb is that if you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, then it's not a solid and should be packed in a checked bag. While passengers can bring solid foods such as pies, cakes and other baked goods through the checkpoints, TSA says keeping your carry-on bag uncluttered often results in fewer bag checks and a shorter wait.
About 81% of MSP's food, beverage and retail shops are open at least part time. Obviously, there are more options in Terminal 1, but there may be lines for food. You can order online from some eateries for pick-up or delivery to your gate here.
If you're driving, be prepared to pay way more at the pump.
You can check out apps and websites such as GasBuddy and AAA to find the best prices for gas in Minnesota. And here's a link for some of the worst areas for congestion nationwide (none in Minnesota, give thanks for that). Generally speaking, the best time to hit the road is after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, before 11 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, and before noon on Saturday and Sunday, according to INRIX.
And remember to chill out, people!
We've all seen the shocking videos of passengers attacking flight attendants and other airline personnel. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has, too. As of Nov. 16, the FAA had received 5,240 reports of "unruly passengers," nearly 3,800 of which were for "mask-related incidents." The FAA says it is investigating these incidents. Fines can be levied up to $35,000 and imprisonment for each infraction. Mask up, take a nap, read a book, watch a video, meditate, or just look out at the clouds.