Worst times to hit the road if you’re heading to the airport for Thanksgiving travel

COLUMBUS (WCMH/AP) — If you’re traveling over Thanksgiving, you’ll have even more company than last year, and that could mean a lot more people trying to get to the Columbus Airport at the same time as you.

AAA predicts that 50.9 million Americans will travel over the holiday, a 3.3 percent increase over 2016 and the most since 2005. More than 45 million will travel by car between next Wednesday and the Sunday after Thanksgiving and about 4 million will fly.

NBC4’s Jennifer Bullock crunched the numbers to see when are the times you should avoid trying to get to and from the local airport.

  • Tuesday 11/21 – Avoid 5pm until 7pm
  • Wednesday 11/22 – Avoid 3pm until 6pm
  • Thursday 11/23 – Should be all clear!
  • Friday 11/24 – Should be all clear!
  • Saturday 11/25 – Avoid 3pm until 6pm
  • Sunday 11/26 – Avoid 1pm until 6pm
  • Monday 11/27 – Normal Day!

MORE: Interactive traffic map for Columbus, Ohio

Trade group Airlines for America expects the busiest air-travel day to be the Sunday after Thanksgiving, followed by the Wednesday before it.

Here are some extra tips from experts on how to handle the stress of traveling over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays:

  • Apps like those from AAA and GasBuddy can help you avoid traffic snarls and find the cheapest gasoline.
  • If you’re flying, take early flights. Lines at security checkpoints tend to be shorter in the early morning, and flight delays build during the day, which can lead to missed connecting flights in afternoon and evening hours.
  • Summer Hull, who writes the Mommy Points travel blog, recommends checking the perks on your credit card. You might be entitled to free checked bags, a discount on in-flight food and drinks, lounge passes or other goodies.
  • Kids 12 and under don’t need TSA Precheck to use the shorter lines if they’re with a parent who has Precheck.
  • Safety experts advise buying a seat for babies and toddlers, but if you’ve got a “lap child” under 2 who is flying free, bring a birth certificate copy because airlines sometimes ask for proof of age.
  • If you get bumped off an oversold flight or your flight is delayed excessively, know your rights to fair treatment and compensation. You can find them on the U.S. Department of Transportation website.
  • Chris McGinnis, founder of the TravelSkills blog, suggests booking hotels around office parks, which tend to be very quiet and offer great rates because there are few business travelers during the holidays.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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