GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The American Automobile Association is expecting this Thanksgiving holiday season to be the busiest since 2005. Travel experts argue that while flying out of your closest airport may be convenient, it may not be the best way to save money or headaches.
As millions of Americans prepare to hit the skies this holiday season, Carol Hammond with Direct Travel, said there are several factors you’ll need to consider.
“My first consideration would be what time of day the flights depart and what kind of layover time you’re coordinating. I never would suggest flying out of Charlotte if it leaves at 8 a.m.,” Hammond said.
She said you need to also consider things like traffic and construction that may make it more difficult to get to the airport.
“Pricing from your hub cities like Charlotte and Atlanta will definitely save you some money, but you really have to look at how much money it is saving you,” Hammond said. “Long drives, gas prices, and parking can add up.”
She said sometimes flying out of smaller airports like Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport can be a better option because of competitive pricing and more direct flights becoming available.
“Asheville Regional Airport and GSP are perfect airports for fewer numbers of people traveling through,” Hammond explained. “So the lines to get through security are generally much shorter than you’ll find in Charlotte or Atlanta. The ease of getting through that first hurdle can be much easier at smaller airports.”
Frequent flyer Cory Mowrey travels to Commerce, Georgia from Pennsylvania regularly.
He said it’s worth it for him to land at GSP and drive the distance.
“I like the convenience of it for sure. It’s quick in and out. Rental cars really convenient. I don’t have to go through Atlanta’s traffic coming north because I go down to Commerce, Georgia. I prefer that,” he explained.
But regardless of which airport you choose, expect Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wait times to be heavy this year.
“It’s easily one of our busiest times of travel, but especially this year as folks are getting vaccinated and things are opening back up. Experts said you can expect a really busy airport regardless of where you’re going,” said Communications Manager for GSP, Michelle Newman.
Newman advises you arrive at least two hours before your flight departs, which will leave plenty of time to navigate the lines at security.
“[The lines] are smaller than what you would find at one of your major airports. But with the holiday season they’re going to get pretty long right around the holidays,” Newman said.
Hammond said if you’re prepping for Christmas, get on it.
“You can find some last minute deals. I’m not going to say that they’re not out there occasionally, but you’ve really got to be either flexible with your flights, the days you fly, things of that sort in order to get a last minute deal in order for Christmas,” said Hammond.
And make sure you’re in touch with your airline to be prepped for any last-minute notifications, delays, and COVID-19 related information.
If you plan to fly out of Greenville, you’ll need to wear a mask both in the airport and on the plane.
There will also be extra hand sanitizer and plastic barriers throughout the airport for your added safety.