Thanksgiving Travel: Pack Your Patience

Holiday travelers chose to stay home on every holiday weekend so far this year, until Thanksgiving, according to industry insiders.

If you’re traveling this Thanksgiving and feel your patience wearing thin, there’s a good reason for it. The roads and the airports will be busier than they have been all year.

Thanksgiving travel, which is generally from Tuesday until Sunday, was expected to go up by 4.1 percent compared to last year, with 3.3 million Southern California residents traveling, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Of those traveling, 86 percent were expected to drive, said AAA spokeswoman Marie Montgomery, who said higher gas prices had not seemed to deter people from taking road trips this Thanksgiving.

“Gas prices are the highest they’ve ever been before Thanksgiving. They’re about 30 cents higher than they were in 2007,” said Montgomery. “But we are actually seeing an increase in holiday travel for the first time this year.”

Los Angeles International Airport was named the nation's busiest airport for Thanksgiving travel this year, according to travel website Orbitz.com.

"The drive here, the traffic was awful," said Linda Pan, who flew out of LAX on Wednesday.

LAX was expecting 1.78 million passengers, during the 10-day holiday travel period between Friday, Nov. 18 through Monday, Nov. 28, which is a 16 percent increase compared to the same time last year, according to Katherine Alvarado, an LAX spokeswoman.

“Travel experts believe the increase is due to a lot of pent up demand to see family and friends because of the economic downturn,” said Alvarado, who said the economy also changed the days people have chosen to travel this year.

“Traditionally, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the following Sunday are usually the busiest days,” Alvarado said. “This year, Thanksgiving day and the Monday after are expected to be the busiest days because more people are opting to extend their trips to save money.”

The Transportation Security Administration has revised its guidelines in time for the Thanksgiving travel rush.

"We've reduced the number of pat-downs that kids 12 and under will receive at security checkpoints, and kids can leave their shoes on," TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said.

The TSA is also reminding passengers of one other security concern which has become a serious problem.

"Go through your bag before you come to the airport. Make sure you're not bringing something like a gun," Melendez said.

In the past 10 months, TSA agents have found 1,100 guns.

Some Southern California students had the whole week off for Thanksgiving, which travel experts said could have played a role in the uptick in holiday travel.

Before hitting the road, check traffic here.

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