Thanksgiving travel rush begins at SFO as TSA predicts busiest holiday season on record

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Friday, November 17, 2023
Thanksgiving travel rush begins as TSA predicts busiest holiday season
EMBED <>More Videos

The TSA is predicting its busiest season ever and it says it all kicks off Friday with the start of Thanksgiving travel.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The TSA is predicting its busiest season ever and it says it all kicks off Friday with the start of Thanksgiving travel.

Although AAA says the majority of folks are expected to drive to their Thanksgiving destinations, TSA says upwards of 30 million people are expected to fly over the next 12 days.

TSA is also predicting it to be their busiest holiday travel season on record.

According to the TSA, the busiest days for travel before Thanksgiving are Tuesday and Wednesday, with more than 2.5 million passengers screened each day.

MORE: How airlines are preparing for busiest holiday travel rush ever in 'record setting year'

But the peak day is actually the Sunday after Thanksgiving as nearly 3 million travelers begin to head home nationwide.

On Friday, travelers anxious to get their hands on some turkey and see their loved ones are pouring into SFO on their busiest day for Thanksgiving air travel.

"I think really what drives it is a lot of schools give kids the entire week off so more and more, we're seeing people really begin their Thanksgiving travel today," Doug Yakel, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Airport said. "Today's going to be our peak day."

SFO officials say 144,000 travelers are expected to come in and out of the airport on Friday alone.

That's about 87 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

MORE: Thanksgiving travel tips: Best and worst days to fly or drive

"For people that have been traveling at SFO the last couple of years, they're going to come back to a busier airport than they've seen in a while so that requires a little bit of preparation," Yakel said. "We always recommend allowing extra time, getting here about two hours before your domestic departure, three hours if you're flying international."

Dave Cheney and his wife heard that message loud and clear before driving to SFO from their home in San Luis Obispo.

With the first rush of holiday traffic, the final day of APEC, ongoing protests, and President Biden still in town, they weren't taking any chances.

"We got here a little too early because we were warned with all this going on to get here early but we actually got here too early to check our bags!" Cheney said. "So now we're wandering around with our bags."

MORE: What stores are open, closed Thanksgiving Day 2023?

They showed up at 8:30 a.m. for their 1 p.m. flight, all in order to trade the traditional Turkey Day dinner with a luau, 60 years in the making.

"We're flying into Hilo and we're going to go on an inner island cruise and it was a gift from my daughter for our 60th wedding anniversary," he said.

Airport officials are asking everyone to make sure you are checking your flight status before coming to the airport and also be sure to book parking before coming here because it is expected to book up.

President Biden also is expected to depart from SFO later in the day on Friday.

Airport officials say other departing planes will have a hold briefly while Air Force One departs, only for a few minutes with a minimal impact on travelers.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live