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TSA warns 2018 Thanksgiving air travel will be crazy busy

More than 25 million people will be flying somewhere for the holiday, one of the busiest ever.

Expect long lines to get through TSA screening

Expect long lines to get through TSA screening at JFK Airport all through Thanksgiving week, says the agency. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

Whether you're going home for the holidays or trying to get out of town, the Transportation Security Administration is warning travelers that this Thanksgiving will be crazy busy.

The TSA  says that it expects 25 million people to be traveling from Friday, Nov. 16, through Monday, Nov. 26. That's an increase of 7 percent over last year, making it one of the TSA's busiest Thanksgivings ever.

JFK Airport is expected to be the worst this year, with more than 100,000 passengers per day leading up to Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 22. LaGuardia Airport will have about 48,000 passing through TSA checkpoints.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving will be especially busy, when most people are returning from trips. The TSA predicts it will be one of the 10 busiest days ever at airports.

Some people may try to avoid the rush with early flights, but it might not make a difference. 

"People are trying to get a jump-start, head start on the crowds, but actually it's just as busy the Friday before Thanksgiving and the Monday  [after] Thanksgiving," TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told CBS. "It starts to ramp up on Tuesday [Nov. 20]. Wednesday is huge, of course, the day before Thanksgiving. And Sunday, right after Thanksgiving, is probably one of the busiest days."

As a result, the TSA is encouraging everyone to arrive early and "prepare, prepare, prepare." Travelers are advised to have correct IDs ready; remove laptops and large electronics from carry-on bags; put large liquids such as shampoo and suntan lotion in checked bags; follow the "3-1-1 liquids rule" for carry-on bags; and contact TSA ahead of time if you have any questions.

CBS reports popular Thanksgiving food items like turkey, stuffing, pies and cakes are allowed in carry-on bags, but gravy, mashed potatoes and wet yams are considered liquids and must be checked. Wrapped gifts are also allowed, but not recommended because TSA agents may have to unwrap the present if it sets off an X-ray machine.


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