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What to know about Thanksgiving travel

AAA predicts that air travel at LaGuardia Airport,

AAA predicts that air travel at LaGuardia Airport, above, and elsewhere will rise about 80% over last year this Thanksgiving week. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Thanksgiving time has long been among the busiest for travel in the United States, as friends and family drive, fly and ride trains and buses to share the holiday. And after a relative lull last year due to the coronavirus’ second wave, excursions are expected to rebound during the coming days.

But with the uptick in COVID-19 cases, federal rules are still in effect, mandating that travelers cover noses and mouths on all forms of transportation used by the public, with the exception of your private automobile.

According to a forecast by AAA, more than 53 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving this year, representing a 13% bump over 2020. It’s the highest single-year increase since 2005, AAA says.

ROADS

AAA recommends leaving early to account for traffic. If your vehicle has been sitting idle, try for an inspection, particularly of key components like the fuel system, tire, brakes, fluid levels and battery.

With news that the Department of Energy is planning to release 50 million barrels from the U.S. reserve, gas prices could drop, but not overnight, CNN reported.

The release "will not solve the problem of high gas prices overnight …. It will take time, but before long, you should see the price of gas drop where you fill up your tank."

#BoycottBlackoutWednesday is a hashtag to be used by New York, among other states, to publicize efforts to combat drunken, impaired or otherwise unsafe driving. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office announced Tuesday that there would be increased police patrols from Wednesday to Sunday.

AIR

Air travel is predicted to rise by about 80% compared to last year, according to AAA.

Monday, Tuesday and particularly Wednesday on Thanksgiving week are the busiest times at the local airports, such as LaGuardia and Kennedy.

AAA recommends arriving at least two hours before your flight. A shortage of Transportation Security Administration screeners, coupled with heavier travel than usual, portend long wait times at most airports.

RAIL

For Wednesday, in anticipation of the rush before Thanksgiving Day, the Long Island Rail Road is planning 12 extra trains departing from Penn Station from 12:45 to 4:15 p.m. There will be four more trains on the Babylon, three on the Port Jefferson-Huntington, and one apiece on the Montauk, Far Rockaway and Port Washington branches. Exact times can be found on MTA.info, the LIRR Train Time app and other online resources.

For Thanksgiving Day itself, the LIRR is planning a weekend/holiday schedule, albeit with extra service before and after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"There will be six extra westbound trains originating on Long Island between 6 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. [two each on the Babylon branch and Ronkonkoma branch, and one each on the Montauk and Port Jefferson branches]. Eleven extra eastbound trains will depart Penn Station between 11 a.m. and 1:35 p.m. [four each on the Babylon and Ronkonkoma branches, two on the Port Jefferson/Huntington branch and one on the Montauk branch]," Newsday reported Sunday.

For Friday, the LIRR is planning a regular weekday schedule on Friday.

Off-peak fares are being charged for the rest of 2021, a policy for both LIRR and Metro North.

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