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Thanksgiving travel tips: Avoid checked bags, weather delays

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Mark Lennihan/AP/File

(Read caption) Passengers line up to pass through security before boarding flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Make your Thanksgiving travel easier by avoiding checked bags and closely monitoring the weather in the days before your flight.

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It's one of the biggest travel weeks of the year in the US, with millions of passengers flying home to visit family for Thanksgiving (myself included).  Here are some of my favorite tips to make Thanksgiving travel a bit easier.

1.  Use TSA Pre-Check

If you don't already have it, it's too late for this year's Thanksgiving, but it's possible to receive clearance by Christmas.  TSA Pre-Check is that fast lane you see when you fly, the one where people's shoes stay on, their laptops stay in their bag, and they are through security in less than a minute.  TSA Pre-Check is also included in Global Entry, allowing you to skip the customs line when returning home.  It is also a free benefit of the American Express Platinum Card.  With lines expected to be long this week at the airport, TSA Pre-Check can get you to the gate much faster.

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2.  Allow Extra Time

With so many people flying this week, especially on Wednesday and Sunday, you've got to allow time to deal with the not-so-frequent flyers.  If you don't have Pre-Check, this means getting to the airport early, up to 3 hours early for some busier airports.

3.  Don't Check Your Bags

I will always suggest this, but this week especially, do not check your bags.  With the volume of bags increasing this week, the chance that your bag will be lost is greater.  At a minimum, it will take time away from your family waiting for your bags to come off the plane.

4.  Delay Mitigation

You can avoid delays by following weather closely in the days before your flight.  If there's a chance that your flight might be cancelled or delayed due to weather, consider changing your flight.  If you're already at the airport, and you're in a connecting city, be careful when delays or cancellations happen.  The hotels near the airport can fill up quickly with other stranded travelers!

What are some tips that you'll use this week to save time and stress at the airport?


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