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More travelers expected to hit roads, airports for Thanksgiving holiday

The TSA screening line at Terminal D. The busy Thanksgiving travel season is near, with DFW Airport being one of the busiest in the country.
The TSA screening line at Terminal D. The busy Thanksgiving travel season is near, with DFW Airport being one of the busiest in the country. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

It’s time to go over the river and through the woods (by car or plane) to get to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving.

And if you’re one of the 48.7 million people that AAA says will travel more than 50 miles for the holiday, prepare yourself for long lines at security checkpoints, full airplanes and crowded highways.

The auto industry group says 3.9 million Texans will travel during the holiday week, up 4.3 percent from last year. National travel volume is up 1.9 percent, AAA said.

Most will travel by car — about 3.5 million in Texas — but airports are gearing up for millions of passengers, particularly on the busiest travel days including the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the following Sunday. The Airlines for America trade group projects 27.3 million passengers will travel by air during Thanksgiving week, up 2.5 percent compared to last year.

$518average airfare at DFW for Thanksgiving

About two million passengers are expected to travel through Dallas/Fort Worth Airport this holiday period. Starting at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the airport is offering a week of free terminal parking to the first 1,000 cars that enter through marked parking plaza gates.

“Thanksgiving gives everyone at DFW a chance to show how thankful we are for our customers by ensuring their DFW travel experience will be a seamless and enjoyable one,” said airport executive Ken Buchanan.

With construction of a new parking garage at Terminal E and renovations continuing at Terminals A and B, the airport is advising travelers to arrive at least two hours ahead of their flight departure time.

Travel tips Arrive early, usually about two hours before your flight Leave gifts unwrapped through security Pies, cakes and turkey can be carried on. Cranberry sauce and gravy cannot if they exceeed 3.4 ounces. Keep your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone at home. The FAA has banned it on flights.

The Transportation Security Administration advises travelers to use programs like TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry to get through security lines faster. It also reminds travelers to keep gifts unwrapped in case agents need to check the package during screening.

For Thanksgiving, the TSA said turkey and pumpkin pie are allowed to be carried through security checkpoints but that more than 3.4 ounces of cranberry sauce or gravy will not be allowed.

More people are flying to their destinations this year because of lower airfares. Dallas-based Farecompare.com said fares decreased from last year in 17 of the top 25 cities, with fares down the most in Minneapolis, off 15 percent to an average of $480.

However, North Texas travelers saw airfares increase 4 percent to $518 for Thanksgiving week, said Farecompare.com founder Rick Seaney. He believes airlines were able to keep fares from falling here because of strong consumer demand.

“I assumed they would be lower because of some of the competition that’s been going on. But I think Thanksgiving yields are up just in general,” Seaney said.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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