Thanksgiving Travel Kicks Off at MSP this Weekend

Thanksgiving Travel Kicks Off at MSP this Weekend

November 18, 2022

Increased Holiday Air Travel Expected Nationwide

November 18 Today kicks off a 10-day peak travel period for the Thanksgiving holiday, bringing a surge of travelers to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and airports across the country.

According to auto and travel club AAA, more than 4.5 million Americans will travel by air to Thanksgiving destinations, an increase of 8% over 2021. At MSP, Thanksgiving holiday travel is expected to equal or surpass 2021 activity, with the busiest days seeing more than 32,000 passengers clearing TSA checkpoints.  

According to MSP’s latest airline booking information, Wednesday, Nov. 23, will be the busiest departure day of the holiday travel period with more than 32,300 passengers projected to be screened at MSP’s security checkpoints. Sunday, Nov. 28, is anticipated to be the second busiest day, with nearly 32,200 passengers expected through security. Today is the start of this holiday travel period and the third-busiest day, with more than 30,000 passengers expected to check-in and clear security. The airport is also anticipating an uptick in connecting travelers, who clear security at other airports before traveling through MSP.

“Thanksgiving travel is spread out over a week or more but MSP will still experience certain days and particular times when there will be heavy spikes in passenger traffic similar to pre-pandemic years,” said Brian Ryks, CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which operates MSP. “We’ll also experience times of heavy traffic on our roadways and terminal curb areas as passengers arrive to check-in or depart our terminals.”  

Travelers should generally arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours ahead of international flights but should reach out to their airlines for more specific guidance. There will be additional staff in MSP’s ticketing lobbies during high-traffic times to direct passengers to appropriate lines and help with wayfinding.

Travelers may also experience more congestion on the roads around the airport this week. During busy times, drivers can pick up or drop off passengers at either Terminal 1’s departures or arrivals levels. MSP’s cell phone lot on Post Road is also recommended. This free parking area allows motorists to wait until they receive a call from the arriving passenger when they are ready to be picked up curbside.


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MSP Airlines are operating flights to 122 destinations this month. Through the first nine months of 2022, MSP passenger activity is up 30% compared to the same time period in 2021.