Thanksgiving Travel Delays

Allison Sodha

Many travelers are aware that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is considered the busiest travel day of the year. However, this year there is the strong possibility of an even longer delay at airports. Several groups have announced plans to encourage travelers on Nov. 24 to opt-out of the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) full body scanner machines and opt-in for TSA's enhanced pat-downs. As a result, security check-point delays may occur at some airports.

The following information has been prepared by Sodha Travel and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) to help ease your passage through airport security:


TSA has recently expedited the deployment of new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines, also known as body scanners, to help detect concealed metallic and non-metallic threats on passengers. In addition, TSA has recently enhanced its pat-down procedures for passengers that require secondary screening. In response, some consumer groups and bloggers have voiced privacy and health concerns. Yet Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has assured the public in an op-ed article in USA Today that these "machines are safe, efficient, and protect passenger privacy." She has further noted that these machines "have been independently evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who have all affirmed their safety."

Download Airport Security Holiday Travel Tips [PDF]

Airport Security Holiday Travel Tips

Before Arriving:

  • Prepare your 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag of liquids before arriving at the airport
  • Monitor local broadcasts for announcements of security checkpoint delays at local airports
  • Pack all your coats and jackets in your checked baggage when possible
  • Do not wrap gifts
  • Check-in online
  • Check your flight status online
  • Review TSA's Security Procedures for "Getting through the Line Faster"
  • Wear easy to remove and replace shoes
  • Plan to arrive to the airport earlier than normal

Airport Arrival:

  • Approach the initial security check-point with your drivers' license/passport and paper boarding pass or electronic boarding pass in hand.
  • While waiting for the next available security screener / metal detector, remove and place in bins:
    • all metal (i.e. belt buckle, coins, eye glasses, etc.)
    • plastic, zip-top bag of liquids
    • items from your pockets, including mobile phone
    • shoes
    • laptops from bag and place in separate bin
    • coat
  • Do not engage in trash talk about security or do anything else to call attention to yourself - this will only make it worse.
  • Remember, if you are selected for an enhanced pat-down, you have the right to request it be done in private

Travel safely, enjoy the feast with family and friends, and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Sodha Travel!

Topics: Airlines, Safety, Festivals and Holidays

Allison Sodha

Written by Allison Sodha

As the President of Sodha Travel and author of Go! Girl Guides India, Allison has spent almost two decades exploring South Asia. She has a passion for creating experiences fueled by a deeper understanding of local communities.