The hassle and hustle of Thanksgiving travel to and from Arizona in 2023

Holiday traveling is a big pain in the you know what. That's why Jared is here with some tips to make traveling simpler and find you deals.
Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 3:08 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — With a rise in Thanksgiving travel expected this year, Americans hitting the roads or heading to airports can take some comfort in a few silver linings.

For drivers in Arizona, gas prices are lower than they’ve been in years for Thanksgiving week. Families driving through southern Arizona will get the best prices. Here are the average prices for a gallon of gas as of Sunday from AAA:

  • Maricopa County: $3.69
  • Yavapai County: $3.78
  • Coconino County: $3.82
  • Pinal County: $3.41
  • Pima County: $3.30

For people flying, Thanksgiving week had the potential to become messy at the nation’s biggest airports. Congress approved a short-term spending plan to avoid a government shutdown. In past shutdowns, TSA workers were required to continue showing up for work, but their paychecks were delayed until a budget compromise was reached. It led to a lot of sick calls from agents at airports and longer lines at the security checkpoints.

This week, the TSA is maintaining its standard goal of getting passengers through the checkpoints in 30 minutes or less. For passengers with TSA PreCheck, the standard is 10 minutes or less.

At times, Sky Harbor’s wait times have been longer. During one of the peak departure times Friday, passengers were waiting longer than 30 minutes in Terminal 3, which is home to Delta, United, Hawaiian, Alaska, Spirit, Jet Blue, and other airlines in Phoenix. To be on the safe side, both TSA and Sky Harbor officials recommend arriving two hours before departure.

At Sky Harbor, passenger numbers for Thanksgiving week are up an extra 25% over what they typically are the rest of the year. To avoid traffic jams around the terminals, the airport staff recommends using the 44th Street and Washington Light Rail Station. The Sky Train runs directly through the East Economy Parking Lot, into Terminal 4, then Terminal 3 (and beyond).

The TSA released their expected screening numbers for the week, peaking next Sunday:

  • Tuesday: 2.6 million
  • Wednesday: 2.7 million
  • Sunday: 2.9 million

For Arizonans with family coming into town, there are plenty of day trip and overnight trip options to choose from! Here are a few favorite ways to enjoy the sun before they return to colder parts of the country:

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