Harriet Baskas

How to survive Thanksgiving travel

Flying somewhere this Thanksgiving? Here are tips to keep sane.

 

A lot of turkey wishbones – and travel records – are set to be broken during the Thanksgiving holiday this year.

AAA expects 54.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the holiday, a 4.8 percent increase over last year and the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005.

For the 48.5 million Americans expected to travel by car over the holiday, the best advice is: leave early. INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts that in the country’s most congested cities the Thanksgiving drive over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house could take four times longer than it might on a ‘normal’ travel day.

Traffic at airports and in the skies will break records as well.

For the holiday period, which officially begins Wednesday, November 21 and runs through Sunday, November 25, the Transportation Security Administration expects to screen 25 million people at U.S. airports, a 7 percent increase over last year.

Looking a bit broader at the 12-day Thanksgiving air travel period already underway, Airlines for America (the airline trade organization) predicts a record 30.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines.

That’s up from the estimated 29 million passengers who flew during Thanksgiving last year.

Flying over Thanksgiving? Travel tips for the airport

As with driving or going anywhere over the holiday, the key advice for flying is: leave for the airport early.

That not only helps reduce stress, but builds in extra time for all those things that can go wrong, such as discovering your favorite airport parking lot is already filled up or there’s a hiccup with your airline ticket.

Transportation Security Administration officials say new screening technologies, coupled with an additional 80 passenger screening canine teams and more than 1,200 TSA officers will help with the increased volume of passengers at airport security checkpoints this year. But there may still be long, slow-moving lines at many airports.

To make sure you’re not the person holding up the line, take some extra time when prepping and packing to make sure your carry-on items are checkpoint-savvy.

*Dress for success: Transfer small items, such as wallets, phones and keys, from your pockets to your carry-on before you get to the checkpoint. Wear shoes or boots that are easy to take off and put back on.

*Download and print your boarding pass. Putting your boarding pass on your mobile phone means one less paper to keep track of. But a paper version is good back-up in case your phone loses its charge while you’re waiting on a long line, or if the checkpoint scanner can’t read the downloaded version of your pass.

*Review the rules. If you’re an infrequent traveler, find a quart-sized clear bag and take a moment to read TSA’s primer on the liquids rule.

If you’re traveling with food to eat during your journey or with a turkey or something else destined for the Thanksgiving table, you will likely be asked to take it out of your bag and put it in a separate bin for a ride through the x-ray machine.

TSA allows turkeys, turkey sandwiches, pies cakes and other baked goods through the checkpoints, but foodstuffs that are liquid, such as jellies and cranberry sauce, need to travel in checked bags.

Unsure if your food it a liquid or gel? TSA’s “What can I bring” tool, available on line and as an app, can help and you can send a question about a specific item to @AskTSA on Twitter.

Here are some other tools and tips that might help smooth out your Thanksgiving flying journey.

*Charge up your phone and other travel gadgets, including one or more back-up chargers, before you leave home. While airports have added more power ports, finding an empty one can still be a challenge. Show up with a power cord with extra plugs, and you’ll be a hero.

*Download the apps for your airline and all airports you’re traveling through and sign up for the alerts for each of your flights.

*Get numbers. Make a list of all the phone numbers you might need for your trip. The list should include not only your airline, but also the rental car or shuttle company you’ve booked with, your hotel, the person picking you up and the person who dropped you off (in case you left something behind). Put those numbers in your phone and on paper.

*Pack extras. Bring along snacks, a hefty amount of patience, and your sense of humor. Add a stash of ‘mad money’ to your wallet. That way, if something goes wrong despite all your planning and preparation you’ll be prepared to buy yourself or your family a stress-busting treat.

 

Enjoy the holiday!

 

Free meals for active military at airports on Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day active-duty military members will be able to get a free meal at airports in restaurants (listed below) operated by Delaware North.

Traveling on Thanksgiving day but not active militiary? Your meal won’t be free, but you’ll find many airport restaurants have turkey and Thanksgiving-themed meals on (traditional and not) on their menus.

 

On Thanksgiving Day, active-duty military members who show their military ID will receive one free entrée item and a free non-alcoholic beverage at more than 150 participating restaurants in 18 airports where Delaware North operates food and beverage outlets.

Participating locations include venues in airports in Atlanta, Austin, Nashville, Boston and many other airports listed below.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

40/40 Club (Concourse D)

Argo Tea (Concourse T)

Atlanta Stillhouse (Concourse T)

Bojangle’s (Concourse T)

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Concourse D and T)

Einstein Bros. Bagels (Concourse D)

FabYo (Concourse D)

Famous Famiglia (Concourse D)

The Market by Food & Wine (Concourse D)

Freshen’s (Concourse D)

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill (Concourse D)

Grindhouse Killer Burgers (Concourse D and T)

Harvest & Grounds (Concourse D)

Jamba Juice (Concourse T)

Mustard Seed (Concourse D)

Subway (Concourse T)

Terrapin Cigar and Smoke Lounge (Concourse D)

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza (Concourse T)

Wolfgang Puck Express (Concourse D)

 

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)

Annie’s Café & Bar (West Terminal)

Austin Java Coffee House (West Terminal)

Juice Land (Food Court)

Peached Tortilla (Food Court)

Salt Lick BBQ (Central Terminal)

iVini (West Terminal)

 

Nashville International Airport (BNA)

La Hacienda (Concourse A)

O’Charley’s (Concourse C)

Tootsie’s (Concourse C)

Whitt’s/Swett’s (Concourse C)

 

Boston Logan Airport (BOS)

Pei Wei (Terminal B)

WPizza (Terminal B)

 

Boise Airport (BOI)

13th Street Grille & Pub (pre-security)

Bardenay (Food Court)

Cross Grain Brewhouse (Concourse B)

Einstein Bros. Bagels (Food Court)

Harvest & Grounds (Concourse C)

Parilla (Concourse C)

River City Café (Concourse B)

Smashburger (Concourse B)

 

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF)

Anchor Bar

Blue Zone

Checkers

Coffee Beanery

Lake Erie Grille

Queen City Kitchen

Tim Horton’s

Villa Pizza

Which Wich?

 

Charleston International Airport (CHS)

Burger King (Central Hall)

Caviar & Banana’s (Central Hall)

Charleston Beer Works (Concourse A)

DeSano’s Pizza Kitchen (Concourse B)

Harvest & Grounds (pre-security and Central Hall)

Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Grill (Central Hall)

 

Denver International Airport (DEN)

Boulder Beer Tap House (Jeppensen Terminal West)

Denver Central Market (Concourse A)

Red Rocks Bar & BBQ (Jeppensen Terminal East)

 

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

360 Burrito (Terminal D)

Einstein Bros. Bagels (Terminal D)

Fuddruckers (Terminal D)

Railhead BBQ (Terminal D)

Salt Lick BBQ (Terminal A)

Twisted Root (Terminal A)

 

Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (baggage claim)

Harvest & Grounds (McNamara Terminal C)

Hockeytown Café (North Terminal)

Le Petit Bistro (North Terminal)

Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen (McNamara Terminal)

Subway (McNamara Terminal A and C)

TGI Friday’s (North Terminal)

The Robert Mondavi Experience (McNamara Terminal C)

 

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

Blue Bar (Terminal 3F)

Burger King (Terminal 4G East)

Casavana Restaurant (Terminal 4G)

Chili’s Restaurant (Terminal 3)

Cross Grain Brewhouse (Terminal 4)

DeSano’s Pizza Kitchen (Terminal 4G)

Einstein Bros. Bagels (Terminal 3F)

Espresso Bar (Terminal 3F)

Food and Wine (Terminal 3F)

Harvest & Grounds (Terminal E-6 and Terminal 4)

Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Grill (Terminal 3E)

Kafe Kalik (Terminal 4G East)

Pei Wei (Terminal 3F)

Plane Box Food Company & Bar (Terminal 4G)

Steak ‘n Shake Signature (Terminal 3F)

Zona Fresca (Terminal 4G)

Casa Noble (Terminal 4G)

PIE Pizza Kiosk (Terminal 3 Las Olas)

Café Sienna (Terminal 3 Las Olas)

Cucina and Co. (Terminal 3 Las Olas)

 

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (pre-security and Terminal 5)

Earthbar (Terminal 6)

L.A. Farmers Market (Terminal 5)

Skewers by Morimoto (Terminal 5)

The Habit Burger (Terminal 6)

Wahoo Fish Tacos (Terminal 6)

Wolfgang Puck Express (Terminal 7)

Wpizza (Tom Bradley Terminal – pre-security)

 

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)

Angel Food Bakery (Concourse E)

Smack Shack (Mall)

Twin’s Grill (Concourse C)

 

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)

Air Meals (Concourse B)

Café Roux (Concourse B)

Café Roux Express (Concourse C)

Copeland’s Gourmet Kitchen (Concourse C)

Dooky Chase (pre-security)

French Market Cafe and Bar (Concourse B)

Le Petit Bistro (Concourse B)

PJ’s Coffee (Concourse C and D)

Taco Lab (Concourse B)

West Beignet (West Lobby)

Wow Cafe & Bar (Concourse D)

Ye Olde College Inn (Concourse D)

 

Will Rogers World Airport (Oklahoma City) (OKC)

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (East Concourse)

Cross Grain Brewhouse (East Concourse)

Moe’s Southwest Grill (East Concourse)

Oklahoma Station Bakery (East Concourse)

Rout 66 Bar (West Concourse)

Tuckers Onion Burgers (East Concourse)

Route 66 Grille (West Concourse)

Cinnabon (East Concourse)

Schlotsky’s (East Concourse)

Cool Greens (West Concourse)

Café 66 (pre-security)

 

Ontario International Airport (ONT)

Auto Club Speedway Café (Terminal 4)

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Terminal 4)

El Paseo Mexican Café (Terminal 2)

Schlotsky’s Deli (Terminal 4)

Wpizza (Terminal 2)

Rock & Brews (Terminal 4)

Einstein Bros. Bagels (Terminal 4)

Wahoo’s Fish Tacos (Terminal 4)

Cross Grain Brewhouse (Terminal 2)

Harvest & Grounds (Terminal 2)

 

Richmond International Airport (RIC)

Applebee’s (Atrium)

Caribou Coffee (Terminal A and B; Atrium)

Club Level Grille (Terminal B)

Cross Grain Brewhouse (Terminal A)

Cheeburger Cheeburger (Terminal B)

 

Tampa International Airport (TPA)

Auntie Anne’s (Terminal A)

Chick-fil-A (Main Terminal)

Four Green Fields (Terminal E)

Panda Express (Terminal E)

Café by Mise en Place (Terminal F)

PDQ (Terminal C)

NYNY Pizza (Terminal A)

RumFish Grill (Terminal C)

 

 

Shop for travel on Black Friday/Cyber MondayTravel Tuesday

Have enough stuff? You can still take advantage of travel-related deals during this holiday shopping season.

Here’s the list I put together recently for CNBC. I’ll update when I find great new offers.

Walt Disney World Resort guests get to race and dive around a track that stretches across Toy Story Land. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

 

Black Friday and its cousins Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Travel Deal Tuesday and Super Saturday are all projected to be shopping blockbusters this year.

But if you and everyone on your gift list already has enough stuff, rest assured there will be plenty of great deals for travelers.

Some offers have already been posted. Others will go live later. But once Black Friday rolls in,  get ready to wade through oodles of discounts on flights, hotel stays, tours, travel gear and gadgets.

To avoid getting overwhelmed by the options, do some research ahead of time on hotel prices and airfares to places you know you want to visit. That way you’ll be confident about snagging a deal when it flies by. Just be sure to read the small print; many Black Friday/Cyber Monday offers come with blackout dates and restrictions.

Here’s a sampling of what will be offered.

Get there

Amtrak confirms it will bring back its Black Friday sale again this year, offering significant discounts of up to 30 percent on train trips nationwide.

Look for airlines such as JetBlue and Cathay Pacific to bring back their Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals as well. Cathay Pacific will offer 60 percent off flights to Asia. Fare sale begins 11/19.

 Stay there

Hotels from Maine to Hawaii, and beyond, will be tantalizing travelers with room deals. Some offers may be offered to loyalty program members first, so this is a good time to sign up.

Archer Hotel, with properties in Austin, Napa, New York City, Burlington, MA, and Florham Park, NJ (adjacent to the Jets training camp) plans a Cyber Monday deal of 25 percent off the best available rates plus direct-book perks of drinks or breakfast for two. Sale runs November 26 to December 3 at this booking link.

Arlo Hotels will offer 50 percent off stays (with no blackout dates) at the Arlo Solo and the Arlo NoMad in New York City with a portion of proceeds going to the Rainforest Alliance. Valid: Black Friday (11/23) to Tuesday, 11/27 for stays through Labor Day 2019.

On Cyber Monday, Aqua-Aston Hospitality, will be offering 25 percent off all 40 of its properties across the Hawaii islands, along with a number of mainland and Costa Rica resorts.

RetailMeNot and Hotels.com have teamed to offer some “Mystery Bookings” on Black Friday that offer 99 percent off.

All 5,300 IHG properties around the globe will be part of a Cyber Week Sale with discounts starting at 25 percent off the best available rate. IHG Rewards Club members get additional discounts starting at 3 percent. Book November 23 through November 30 (“Cyber Weeks Sale” rate) for stays November 26, 2018 through March 31, 2019.

The Kennebunkport Resort Collection (KRC), with 9 hotels and six restaurants in Kennebunkport, Maine will offer gift card bonuses on Cyber Monday. Buy a $500 gift card and receive a $100 resort credit; buy a $200 gift card and receive a $25 resort credit.

 Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is offering 25 percent off its Best Flexible Rates to IHG Reward Club member (free sign-up) from November 19 through November 30 for stays November 19 through March 31, 2019. Kimpton will also be donating $5/night to charity (The Trevor Project and No Kid Hungry)

Millennium Hotels and Resorts will offer 25 percent off flexible rates at its 13 hotels across the United States. My Millennium loyalty club members will get an extra 5 percent off. Book November 21 to 27, 2018 for stays November 21, 2018 – March 31, 2019.

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, more than 30 Myrtle beach-area properties will be offering deep discounts of up to 55 percent on stays that stretch through spring and summer 2019. Offers will be posted here.

From November 22 through November 27, Provenance Hotels, with properties in Portland, Seattle/Tacoma, New Orleans, Nashville and Stillwater, MN, will be offering discounts of 40-50 percent off stays through February 2019.

Between November 22 and November 26, Viceroy Hotel Group, with 12 properties in cities ranging from Beverly Hills to New York City and Chicago, will offer discounts of up to 45 percent, as well as additional perks such as complimentary upgrades and resort credits.

And from November 23 through Monday, November 26, Pacifica Hotels will offer 40 percent off room rates at 34 beachside properties in California.

Keep an eye out for deals at individual hotels as well.

Walt Disney World adventure-seekers can nab 50 percent off the best available rates on two and three-bedroom suites at The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando. (Use code Cyber to book from Black Friday through Cyber Monday). And from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego will offer rates starting at $99 for stays through January 15 and add $100 drinking and dining credit to the first five reservations booked with the BF2018 code on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. One guest will also win a complimentary two-day stay, redeemable in 2019 including breakfast, parking and VIP check-in.

Tours, tickets, gear and adventures

Companies offering tours, packages and expeditions, including Intrepid Travel, Friendly Planet Travel and Liberty Travel, all have Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals on tap. Glamping Hub, an online booking platform for unusual accommodations such as tree house, tiny homes, yurts and airstreams, will add 20 percent in value to gift cards purchased on Cyber Monday

From November 20 to 29, Visit Orlando will offer an extra 10 percent off purchases at OrlandoTickets.com on top of the deals and discounts offered to more than 40 theme parks, attractions, activities and dinner shows. Most are valid one year from purchase, Use code “GIFT.”

Sea Bags, which recycles sail cloth into travel gear, will offer a 20 percent discount storewide online and at its retail locations from Black Friday through Sunday, November 25. The company’s Portland and Freeport, Maine locations will be selling select for up to 60 percent off. On Cyber Monday, the online discount will be 25 percent, with free shipping.

Don’t shop; do

For those who would rather skip the shopping ritual altogether, there are plenty of other options.

On Friday, November 23, the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI will be holding its 7th annual Black Friday Beerfest.

And in solidarity with outdoor gear store REI, which closes all 153 stores, processes no online payments and pays its employees to spend Thanksgiving and Black Friday outdoors, state parks and recreation areas in Minnesota, Georgia and other states around the country will host Free Park Friday as part of the #OptOutside movement.

Souvenir Sunday: Holiday shopping at airports

Getting ready to do some holiday shopping? Don’t forget airport shops, which often offer “street pricing.”  That means products purchased at airport shops cost no more than they do in town.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has once again put together a handy online Holiday Catalog to help travelers plan their airport shopping. Lots of Arizona-themed and locally-made items are listed in the catalog.  And, yes, cactus plants are regularly packed for travel.

In the Northwest, Oregon’s Portland International Airport (PDX) is a popular shopping destination for travelers and locals alike.

I head there from Seattle each year not only because Oregon have no sales tax, but PDX has a pre-security shopping area featuring branches of many popular local stores.

Here’s a selection of items that recently showed up in a PDX gift box I received. Included: shortbread cookies from Flying Elephants Delicatessen, a tote bag from Powell’s Books, a CD compilation of music by Portland-based artists, a whiskey sampling from House Spirits Distillery and a scarf, mug and socks from the Pendleton Woolen Mills. (Thank-you, PDX!)

 

During the holidays, not only do many airport shops have their most popular gifts wrapped and ready to go, many airports offer free gift wrapping for unwrapped items you may have tucked in your carry-on.

Heading to an airport during this holiday season? If you see something cool, unusual and locally-themed that you think would make a great gift, please snap a photo and send it along. If your item is featured on StuckatTheAirport.com, we’ll send you a travel-themed gift.

Move over therapy dogs, New Orleans Int’l Airport has ‘gators

 

You’ve likely seen or heard about the therapy animals that visit airports around the country to help de-stress travelers.

Most airports have dogs, but San Franciso International Airport’s team includes a pig, Denver International Airport’s team boasts a cat and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport regularly hosts minature horses.

What’s next?

How about alligators?

On Fridays at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport the Audubon Nature Institute brings live alligators to the baggage claim area and encourages passengers to pose for an “MSY Gator Selfie.”

Brave travelers can also touch the baby gators, which are one to three years old and up to three feet long, according to an airport spokeswoman.

MSY airport does have a dog therapy team – the MSY K-9 Krewe (a nod to the krewes, or groups, that organize parades and balls in New Orleans) – but alligator visits and gator selfies are another way the airport is working to enhance the passenger experience.