RDU expects record number of holiday travelers, but severe weather could throw a wrench in travel plans

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Record travel numbers are expected at Raleigh-Durham International Airport this Thanksgiving holiday – but increased numbers combined with severe storms around the country could make for messy holiday travel.

More than 286,000 people are expected to pass through RDU this week.

The airport is expecting this year’s Thanksgiving travel rush to surpass the record it saw in 2019, beating out pre-pandemic numbers.

More than 143,000 people are forecast to pass through security checkpoints between Wednesday, Nov. 22, and Monday, Nov. 27.

That means more than 286,000 people could travel through the airport this week, outpacing last year’s number by 27%, officials said Monday.

Sunday will be the busiest travel day at the airport followed by Wednesday and Monday.

On a national scale, the TSA expects 30 million Americans to pass through an airport between Nov. 20 and Nov. 28.

Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are some of the busiest air travel days — and the most expensive.

This all comes as the TSA is working to address a shortage of air traffic controllers.

On the roads, 49 million people are expected to drive to their Thanksgiving destinations. AAA expects Wednesday to be the most crowded on the roads.

At the pump, you’ll be paying an average price of $3.03 this morning in North Carolina – 30 cents less than this same time last year.

Tips for smooth Thanksgiving air travel

The TSA shared the following tips for smoother holiday travel:

  • Book parking online at least 24 hours in advance at parkrdu.com.
  • Arrive 2 to 3 hours before your scheduled flight. Check in early.
  • Download the app of your airline to get updates on your flight status and any changes.
  • Know TSA rules and make sure your luggage is ready to pass through security.
  • Empty your pockets prior to arriving in the checkpoint.
  • Know how to travel with special holiday foods and drinks. Alcohol, jams, jellies, sauces and wines in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should go in a checked bag. Cakes, pies, cookies and breads can travel in carry-on luggage in any quantity, but may require some additional screening.
  • Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper in case the TSA has to search the gift.