What to expect if you’re traveling during Thanksgiving holiday

New rules for carry-on electronics are in effect. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
New rules for carry-on electronics are in effect. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Passengers wait to make a Thanksgiving getaway at Reagan National Airport Nov. 22, 2017. (WTOP/Brandon Millman)
Passengers wait to make a Thanksgiving getaway at Reagan National Airport Nov. 22, 2017. (WTOP/Brandon Millman)

A shot of the traffic on the Beltway the afternoon before Thanksgiving 2017. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
A shot of the traffic on the Beltway the afternoon before Thanksgiving 2017. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Ben’s Chili Bowl is one of the new food offerings at Reagan National Airport. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Security lines are getting longer at Reagan National Airport at 4 p.m. the afternoon before Thanksgiving 2017. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Security lines are getting longer at Reagan National Airport at 4 p.m. the afternoon before Thanksgiving 2017. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Chick-fil-A is one of the new food offerings at Reagan National Airport. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Chick-fil-A is one of the new food offerings at Reagan National Airport. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday that follows are two of the worst travel days of the year. (WTOP/John Aaron)
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday that follows are two of the worst travel days of the year. (WTOP/John Aaron)

A steady stream of travelers is moving quickly through Reagan National. (WTOP/John Aaron)
A steady stream of travelers moves quickly through Reagan National Wednesday morning. (WTOP/John Aaron)

Conditions are expected to worsen in the afternoon. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Conditions are expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon. (WTOP/John Aaron)

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New rules for carry-on electronics are in effect. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Passengers wait to make a Thanksgiving getaway at Reagan National Airport Nov. 22, 2017. (WTOP/Brandon Millman)
A shot of the traffic on the Beltway the afternoon before Thanksgiving 2017. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Security lines are getting longer at Reagan National Airport at 4 p.m. the afternoon before Thanksgiving 2017. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Chick-fil-A is one of the new food offerings at Reagan National Airport. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday that follows are two of the worst travel days of the year. (WTOP/John Aaron)
A steady stream of travelers is moving quickly through Reagan National. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Conditions are expected to worsen in the afternoon. (WTOP/John Aaron)

WASHINGTON —  If you’re traveling this Thanksgiving holiday, here are some tips to keep in mind for a smooth journey.

For the most updated traffic report, visit WTOP’s traffic center. And see a map of the conditions:

And for the latest weather updates, check out WTOP’s weather page.

At the airports

Security lines at Reagan National Airport got longer the day before Thanksgiving. But there was good news: USA Today travel reporter Ben Mutzabaugh told WTOP Wednesday, “things look A-OK.” He was “hard-pressed to recall another Thanksgiving” with so many flights on time and so few canceled.

The weather is a big factor when it comes to holiday travel, where a big storm in Chicago or New York “can really gum up the system,” he said. There were only a few cancellations across the country this week, and even fewer on Wednesday, mostly concentrated around Cape Cod.

Those driving to the airport saw an increase in traffic. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday that follows are usually the two busiest travel days in airports, according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokesman Andrew Trull.

Trull told WTOP that those traveling during these busy travel days should make sure to plan ahead, leave early and be patient when making their way to the airport.

If you’re parking at the airport, you can reserve a parking spot in advance at Reagan National Airport.

At Dulles Airport, officials said in a tweet that people picking up travelers should consider using the departures level.

At BWI Marshall Airport, the first hour in the hourly garage is free during peak holiday travel of Nov. 15 to Jan. 15.

Tips to make your flight less stressful

The additional traffic is only one possible obstacle between you and your flight home. New procedures at airport security check points might delay already-long lines. Again, arriving with plenty of time to get through delays is key to making the trip as easy as possible.

Domestic travelers are encouraged to arrive two hours ahead of their scheduled departure time and international travelers should arrive at least three hours in advance, Trull said.

If you’re bringing your contribution to dinner in your luggage, check out WTOP’s tips for how to best do so.

“In particular, we want to remind everybody that the TSA has implemented new security screening procedures in standard security lanes, Which means that all electronic devices larger than a laptop, all food items along with the typical liquids must be removed from baggage before being processed through security,” Trull said.

Here are some general tips to get through the lines a little faster:

  • Download your air carrier’s mobile app and check into your flight before arriving at the airport.
  • Travel with a carry-on bag only to avoid the airline check-in counter.
  • Pack smart. Any items that you have to pull out at the security check points should be in easily accessible locations.

On the road

Projections released by AAA show that this year’s travel season may be one of the worst for the D.C. area on the roads.

AAA estimates show that 1.2 million people in the region will travel 50 miles or more, a 4 percent increase from last year.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli and Michelle Basch contributed to this report.

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