Traveling for Thanksgiving? You’re in Good Company

Nationwide travel expected to hit 25 million; more than 360,000 will pass through PIT between now and Nov. 26

By Alyson Walls

Published November 16, 2018

Read Time: 2 mins


They’re coming. As sure as the stuffing and mashed potatoes, hundreds of thousands of holiday travelers will be making their way through Pittsburgh International Airport starting today and continuing straight through Thanksgiving weekend.

The Transportation Security Administration expects a record-breaking number of flyers for the holiday travel period, with more than 25 million passengers traveling through security screening checkpoints nationwide between today and Nov. 26. That’s an increase of 5 percent from 2017.

Why the 10-day travel period? In past years, many have chosen to fly the day before Thanksgiving, but more recently, more travelers are leaving the Friday before, a trend the TSA expects to continue.

The busiest travel days will still be the two leading up to the holiday and the following Sunday, with the latter expected to be one of the top 10 busiest travel days of the year, the TSA projects.

PIT is also expecting an increase in travelers from last year. As has been the trend for several years, Wednesday, Nov. 21, and Monday, Nov. 26, are expected to be the busiest days at PIT, with a total of nearly 40,000 people arriving and departing daily. On Nov. 26 alone, 19,230 people are expected to arrive back home, so baggage claim will be hopping.

“For nearly three years, we have seen a steady increase in total monthly passengers due to airlines adding additional flights, seats and larger aircraft, and this year will be no different,” said Bryan Dietz, vice president of Air Service Development. “With a combination of new nonstop routes and new carriers, we expect to see both regular travelers and first-time flyers during the holiday period.”

To ease the airport experience, the airport recommends the following:

  • Arrive at the airport at least two hours before your scheduled flight, especially when checking bags and traveling with family.
  • Reserve your parking online at to save time and money.
  • Review all TSA policies for carry-on items at
  • Use the Extended Parking/Cell Phone Lot free for up to one hour. Please avoid waiting at the curb if your party has not arrived, and never leave your vehicle unattended or it will be towed.

Because of new nonstop flights, passenger traffic has increased more than 8 percent in 2018, and the effects are noticeable, said Brian Stashak, vice president of Terminal Operations.

“We continue to be focused on customer service, safety and efficient operations during this busy time, and we request the public’s assistance in being prepared and patient at the airport,” Stashak said. “Travelers can expect some longer waits at the checkpoints and to see additional cars on the arrivals curb when picking up friends and family.”

TSA officials report they are using new technology, adding an additional 80 passenger screening canine teams and deploying more than 1,200 officers nationwide to handle the volume of passengers.

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