Nov 21, 2023 - News

Thanksgiving travel surge to hit Twin Cities airports, roads

Illustration of a turkey pulling a suitcase.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Thanksgiving travelers in the Twin Cities should brace for busy roads and airport terminals amid a projected surge in holiday trips.

The big picture: An estimated 4.33 million people across AAA's West North Central Region are expected to travel 50 miles or more this week, marking the busiest Thanksgiving travel period since the pandemic.

  • That figure, which covers travel in Minnesota and six other states in the Midwest and Great Plains, is the fourth highest on record.

Zoom out: Nationally, 55.4 million travelers are expected to hit the roads and skies for the holiday, per AAA, a 2.3% increase over last year.

Zoom in: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport officials are projecting the busiest Thanksgiving travel season in four years, with peaks nearing 2019 passenger levels.

  • Wednesday is expected to be the peak departure day, with an estimated 37,000 passengers to be screened at checkpoints. Friday and Sunday should see 34,000-plus people.

What we're watching: Travel troubles could come down to more than crowds. A series of storms in the forecast across the U.S. could cause disruptions, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes.

  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at a briefing Monday that while "we can't control the weather, we will also be using every tool at our disposal to keep cancellations and delays as low as possible in the first place."

Be smart: More people means more congestion. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.

And for those fetching out-of-town guests from MSP, the airport also announced the opening of a second cell phone lot, on the south side of Post Rd.


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