Roads and airports will be busy over Thanksgiving holiday as 1 million Marylanders are expected to travel

Published on: November 23, 2022 1:58 PM EST|Updated on: November 23, 2022 2:42 PM EST

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 22:  Passengers walk through a terminal at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on December 22, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Getting out of town for Thanksgiving? You’ll be in good company, as AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts more than 1 million Marylanders will travel at least 50 miles over the holiday weekend.

Roadways will be busy, as over 90% of those travelers are predicted to go by car, according to the motor club — a total of over 956,000 Marylanders. That number would fall slightly below last year’s figure, the organization said.

The number of travelers going by plane, bus or train is expected to increase this year, AAA Mid-Atlantic said.

At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Maryland Aviation Administration Executive Director Ricky Smith said it’s expected that the airport “will certainly pass last year’s levels” of travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. He’s also hopeful that traffic will pass pre-pandemic levels, or “at least match that.”

On Wednesday, the airport expects to see close to 33,000 travelers pass through, which is higher than last year when the airport saw around 32,000 travelers, he said.

Numbers will tick up again on Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday, Smith said. Around 34,000 people are expected will pass through, which would be higher than last year’s totals. Monday may be busy, as well, Smith said.

“Because there’s so many people coming through the terminal at one time, and a lot of those people are not experienced travelers, it can be rather hectic,” Smith said.

He advises travelers who are flying domestic to arrive around two hours early, “which gives you time to get through parking, get through traffic, get through check in and the security check point,” he said.

Those flying international should aim to arrive at least three hours early, he said.

Before leaving for the airport, travelers should “do a little homework” to make sure their flight is still on time, Smith said.

“Since the pandemic, delays, flight changes have been rather rampant, so you might want to check with your airline,” he said.

The airport expects to use all 25,000 of its parking spaces — including, hourly, daily and long-term parking — over the holiday weekend, and officials advised travelers to check parking on BWI’s website before arriving. Smith also suggested travelers consider using Uber or Lyft to get dropped off or picked up.

For those driving, the Maryland Department of Transportation said to expect congestion on Maryland highways between Nov. 22 and Nov. 27, according to a release.

Highways are expected to be especially busy from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, and during the same time frame on Sunday, the agency said.

Drivers should also expect heavy traffic on the Bay Bridge from Nov. 23-28, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. The best times to travel eastbound on Saturday and Sunday is before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m., and westbound before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

On Monday, the best time for eastbound drivers is before noon and after 6 p.m., and for westbound drivers it’s before 6 a.m. and after 2 p.m., the agency said.

Marylanders should also be aware of some adjustments to public transportation over the holiday.

The MARC train will not operate on Thanksgiving, according to a release from the Maryland Transit Administration. On Friday, the Brunswick and Camden lines will not operate, and the Penn Line will operate on the Saturday schedule, the agency said.

Buses, the Metro subway and the light rail will operate on a Sunday or holiday schedule on Thanksgiving, the release said.