Business travel comes with its unique set of challenges, but a whole new set of obstacles comes into play when traveling close to the holidays. Thanksgiving is the busiest time of the year to travel in the U.S. Yes, even busier than Christmas or the Fourth of July.
This Thanksgiving is expected to be the busiest for travel since 2005.
More than 31.6 million Americans are expected to fly this Thanksgiving holiday season, according to Airlines for America. That’s a 3.7 percent over 2018.
All these high consumer travel numbers point to a healthy economy, which is good for business travel in general. GBTA predicts that business travel will continue to grow on a global level in the foreseeable future.
The busiest day for air travel this week is expected to be Sunday, December 1, as people head home to start the work week in their office or off-site for a business meeting. It is expected that 3.1 million passengers will fly, and if it happens, it will be the single busiest air travel day on record.
The next busiest days for travel will be Wednesday, November 27, and Friday, November 22. The lightest day for air travel is Thanksgiving Day.
The airports are going to be very busy and it would be best to avoid the busiest if possible.
The 10 busiest airports in the United States are:
Driving will be just as hectic. Almost 10 million travelers are expected to get on the road and drive 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving.
Here’s 5 tips for surviving business travel during Thanksgiving:
Avoid the busiest travel days: Skip flying on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or the Sunday afterwards as they are the busiest travel days. Also be aware of what time you choose for a flight. While the experienced business traveler knows they don’t need two hours at the airport before boarding, the rules of the game change when so much of the country gets on the road at once. Bake in extra time -- much more than you feel necessary.
Business travelers usually have more flexibility than a family of six so use that to your advantage and fly on the less busy days and earlier or later in the evening.
Use a smart business travel solution: Some business travelers end up on a work trip close to holidays due to a last-minute or urgent need. This also requires last-minute booking, which is when having a modern business travel solution that helps you find the best option for the best price and the benefit of 24/7 365 travel agents feels even more potent.
Navan allows business travelers to filter flight options by time of flight, airport, and airline. Using machine learning and AI technology, Navan also considers the business travelers’ personal preference as well as contextual information -- such as the busiest travel week of the year -- to deliver its ‘Recommended’ options. Business travelers can change that to search by flight duration, the earliest or latest departure/arrival, and fares.
Book an earlier flight which is less likely to be impacted by flight delays and cancellations.
Pack as light as possible: Even small carry-ons are sometimes relegated to the luggage hold when boarding on particularly busy flights. Read through our guide on the best suitcases for business travel and prepare to keep your items as close as possible during this hectic week.
Stay well on the road: Remaining healthy while traveling for business is a top concern of frequent business travelers, and it becomes even more difficult in a season when treats and slight indulgences are encouraged. Navan outlined a few top tips on how to eat healthy when traveling for business.
Take advantage of expedited airport security: The lines will be long so do everything you can to shorten the wait and get where you’re going faster.
There are three fast-track programs that can be used in the U.S. to speed up different parts of the airport experience: Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, and CLEAR.
TSA PreCheck gives business travelers access to shorter security lines and a faster screening. Instead of showing an ID and boarding pass to a TSA agent, Clear members scan their eye or fingerprint at a Clear kiosk and head directly to the front of the security line. If flying out of the country, U.S. Global Entry is a fast-track program that gives business travelers access to an easier and faster customs and immigration process when returning to the U.S. from an international airport.
Wherever your travels bring you this week, whether for work or family, we hope you take a moment to be grateful for all the opportunities that travel can bring.