Flying for Thanksgiving? Here are travel tips from an airline pilot

Many travelers are taking to the skies for Thanksgiving this year and taking into account a number of factors that may impact their travel plans.

One of those factors is the volume of passengers. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the agency screened nearly 2.5 million passengers in U.S. airports on Monday, Nov. 21 – over 200,000 more than the number screened on the same day during pre-pandemic times in 2019.

Short staffing can mean delays

FILE - A pilot pictured at Munich International Airport.  (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

While the number of passengers has exceeded pre-pandemic levels, the number of pilots and airline staff available to assist them has fallen short.

According to pilot and meteorologist J.P. Dice, these staffing shortages have been an ongoing issue in the industry that was then exacerbated by the pandemic shutting down many operations. The industry has struggled to bounce back since.

"The travel demand is really, really high, and we're really falling below what we need to be in the staffing levels with airlines," Dice said.


He noted that incentives had been put in place to entice newcomers to become pilots, but since the amount of training necessary can take years, it may take additional time to make a dent in the current pilot shortage.

Travelers are urged to arrive early and prepare for long lines. The TSA recommends travelers arrive at their terminal with plenty of time before their scheduled flight.

Keep an eye on the weather

FILE - A scenic view of aircraft flying overhead. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Another factor for passengers to consider is the weather. Dice noted the importance of checking the weather across the country to see if certain systems are moving through airline hubs on a passenger’s itinerary.

This year, a powerful storm system is bringing rain, high winds, snow and severe storms to more than 30 states. Because of this, many travelers might experience disruptions to their travel plans, with Tuesday being the worst day.


To check the weather for your travel plans, watch FOX Weather on your FOX Weather app or on TV.

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