Thanksgiving travel in Michigan expected to be busiest ever

By late morning Tuesday, the Detroit airport had slowed down a bit more than what some employees were expecting. 

Following a brief rush of passengers flowing into DTW and flying out to their next destination, lines to get tickets and pass through security had mostly dried up. It means a breather for workers today - but could also be the calm before the storm this holiday season.

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is historically the busiest one to travel during. But the TSA expects this season to be the busiest one ever with an estimated 30 million passengers expected to be screened at security before flying during the 12-day travel period, which is from Nov. 17-28. 

The busiest travel holiday

About 2.6 million passengers were expected Tuesday. Another 2.7 million will be flying on Wednesday, which is widely believed to be the busiest day for traveling.

"We are ready for the anticipated volumes and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure we are prepared for this busy holiday travel season. We will also do our best to maintain wait time standards of under 10 minutes for TSA PreCheck® lanes and under 30 minutes for standard screening lanes."

According to AAA, more than 55 million people will travel at least 50 miles this year. Besides 178,000 expected to fly, another 1.5 million will drive, the group said.

"Travel demand has been strong all year and that trend will continue with one of the busiest Thanksgivings on record," said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA.

Luckily for most, gas prices are down this year, which should lighten the load for families that are driving. Drivers will pay an average $3.27 per gallon in Michigan, which is about 50 cents less than it was this time last year.

Best times for traveling

With so many expected to travel, it will behoove some to plan when they leave. 

For flyers, best get to the airport early. While the weather is expected to be pretty predictable, there are always potential for other delays at airports.


Michigan gas prices fall ahead of busy Thanksgiving holiday

Some of the lowest costs of the year are here, and just in time as more Michigan residents are expected to travel for the holidays this year.

For drivers, the math gets a little trickier. Wednesday is the busiest day on the roads with some metro areas seeing 80% longer travel times. The best time to leave would be early in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the worst of the congestion.

In Michigan, I-96 between Detroit and Grand Rapids is predicted to take the longest time.

"The day before Thanksgiving is notoriously one of the most congested days on our roadways. Travelers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major metros," said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. "Knowing when and where congestion will build can help minimize holiday traffic frustrations. We advise drivers to use traffic apps, local DOT notifications, and 511 services for real-time updates."

Tow To Go returns

AAA's Tow to Go program returns with the holiday season. Anyone who is too impaired to drive may call the transportation service and get driven to somewhere safe within 10 miles. 

They don't take reservations and it is instead designed as a safety net for those who did not plan ahead.

The service can be reached at (855) 286-9246.