With the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the upcoming holiday season in the United States is expected to feature significant travel delays and other logistical issues. With the highest number of Thanksgiving holiday travelers since 2007 and tightened security measures, the next few days should be extremely chaotic for airports.
According to security officials, the Transportation Security Administration has greatly increased their security efforts, and wait times have slightly increased. Additionally, airports throughout the world have stepped up their security protocols following the bombing of a Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt on October 31.
At the present time, there are no known terrorist threats against the United States. Approximately 47 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home during the Thanksgiving holiday. However, 42 million of these Americans are expected to be driving rather than flying. This year, the Thanksgiving holiday is defined as any time from November 25 through November 29.
The TSA has not announced how exactly it plans to increase airport security. It should be expected that there will be more random hand swabbing for explosive residue, more bomb-sniffing dogs, and mandatory laptop checks and shoe removals, even for people that are signed up for the TSA Pre-Check program.
Additionally, with fewer TSA staff members working at airports, wait times might be further increased. In October of 2011, there were 45,874 full-time TSA screeners. By October of this year, that number fell to 40,609. The agency has not said how it plans to work with a reduced number of staff.
This year, the busiest travel days for the Thanksgiving holiday are expected to be Wednesday, November 25, Sunday, November 29 and Monday, November 30.
Airports are also warning fliers not to wrap any early Christmas presents. This way, security officials will be able to easily inspect them.
Luckily for drivers, the average price of gas nationwide is only $2.08. This is 72 cents lower than Thanksgiving last year.