Resources for Thanksgiving travelers
Check Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's Web site for wait times and flight information: www.atlanta-airport.com
For a shuttle to the airport, call AAA Airport Express, Inc. to reserve a seat or visit their Web site for shuttle schedules: www.aaaairportexpress.com or 404-767-2000
Parking at the Atlanta airport's park-ride facility costs $9 per day.
With fewer seats and more fees on flights this year, many people are opting to hit the roads to see family this Thanksgiving.
According to AAA Auto Club South, the majority of travelers intend to drive to their holiday destinations this year, perhaps reflecting a growing dissatisfaction with air travel.
This year, only 6 percent of people said they will travel by air, furthering a 10-year trend of declining air travel during the week of Thanksgiving. Since 2000, the number of air travelers during Thanksgiving weekend has dropped by 62 percent, according to AAA.
While fewer will be flying, overall holiday travel is expected to go up.
More Americans intend to travel this Thanksgiving than last year. AAA projects 38.4 million Americans will travel a distance of 50 miles or more away from home throughout Thanksgiving weekend, a 1.4 percent increase over last year when 37.8 million traveled for the holiday.
Gregg Laskoski, a spokesman for AAA Autoclub South, said there are a number of things that have led people to skip the airport.
"It has to do with really the culmination of all these factors," Laskoski said. "It’s the reduced number of flights for one thing, then you have higher airfares, you have baggage fees and many additional fees that the airlines tack on to generate revenue and profit."
Though driving takes much longer than flying, Laskoski said many are willing to spend the extra time in the car because of all the crowds on peak flying days.
"On top of that you have flights that are often delayed and it’s a very difficult experience for a lot of people to have to get to the airport hours in advance just so you can go through the multiple security checkpoints," Laskoski said. "It’s something very frustrating to consumers, especially leisure travelers who are not frequent flyers."
Those who do plan to fly should set aside an hour and a half to make it through security gates.
Al Snedeker, a spokesman with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, said he doesn’t expect any unusual delays, but it never hurts to arrive early.
"We have 32 security check lanes," Snedeker said. "Our goal is to keep the average wait time less than 20 minutes in peak times."
Snedeker recommends calling the airline ahead of time or looking online to check the status of a flight before leaving for the airport. People can also get real-time estimates of the wait at security lines by checking the airport’s web site, www.atlanta-airport.com.
Many airlines have recently instituted new fees for things like checking baggage.
"Check with air carriers to see what their policies are, they’re all unique pretty much," Snedeker said.
Snedeker said a major way people can help reduce the congestion at the airport is by parking in the hourly parking lots when dropping off or picking up passengers.
"The hourly parking is free for the first 15 minutes and $1 for the first hour," Snedeker said. "We’re encouraging people to do that instead of driving by the curb."