You might think the holiday travel myths had gone the way of the Samsung Galaxy 7 (banned on all U.S. flights, by the way, if you didn’t get the memo) but these rumors still get perpetuated at family gatherings. Here are five Thanksgiving travel mythbusters you can permanently delete from your official list of “Things to Stress Over.”
1. Thanksgiving flights are way more expensive.
Truth: If you’re open to traveling on Thanksgiving Day, or taking red eye flights, you should still be able to find airfare that won’t force you to blow off your monthly car payment.
2. Hotels cost more during Thanksgiving.
Truth: Since 50% of the 25 million Thanksgiving travelers stay with family members, hotels can have trouble filling their rooms, so empty rooms sales are not uncommon.
3. The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year.
Truth: Not so much. The summer months actually boast the busiest travel days of the year. In 2013, the Chicago Tribune ranked Thanksgiving Eve at O’Hare Airport — a bellwether if ever there was one — the 169th busiest time of the year for travel. Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association said the Fridays in June, July and August were the busiest travel days of the year.
4. You can expect more flight delays during Thanksgiving.
Truth: Thanksgiving flight delays hover around 18%, and are affected more by weather than passenger load. Since we’re having a milder than usual November, you may be in luck. A recent study on flight delays by travel research site WanderBat found New York and Chicago Airports were in the Top 25 and Top 10, respectively, for flight delays.
5. You cannot travel with wrapped gifts.
Truth: You technically can, but remember, the TSA reserves the right to unwrap anything that looks or smells suspicious. So go ahead — wrap that gaudy cornucopia centerpiece with the silk fall leaves and the plastic acorns. Your host family will love it…probably.
Bonus Myth: You cannot travel with food on airline flights.
Truth: You can travel with food, and hey, whose stomach hasn’t growled when someone unwraps a particularly fragrant slice of Uno’s Pizza on a crowded flight? However, there are food restrictions, and that list is here for your reference. Most of the restrictions (ahem, “gravy,” for example) are common sense. Who wants someone’s greasy turkey gravy splashing about in cramped quarters, anyhow?
Now, back to that cornucopia. We’ll be addressing great host family gifts in our forthcoming blog, “Best Practices for Being a Most Excellent Holiday Houseguest.” Watch for it.