Watch CBS News

Holiday travel rush begins at Philadelphia International Airport: What to know before you go

Travelers battled dreadful holiday traffic in Pennsylvania ahead of Christmas weekend
Travelers battled dreadful holiday traffic in Pennsylvania ahead of Christmas weekend 02:02

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Thursday, Dec. 21 marks the start of what's shaping up to be a busy holiday weekend on the road, at Philadelphia International Airport and other airports across the country.

PHL is projecting that more than 1 million travelers will pass through its terminals between Dec. 21 and Jan. 3, a nearly 14% increase from 2022's end-of-year travel season.

Nationwide, the Federal Aviation Administration also expects travel to peak on Thursday with 48,959 flights lined up. Friday and the day after Christmas are forecast to be the next busiest travel days before the end of the year, with another 44,000 flights on Dec. 22 and 41,000 flights on Dec. 26.

If you're driving to your holiday destination instead of flying, expect busy roads too. AAA predicts about 115 million people nationwide will travel 50 or more miles from home over the 10-day travel period this year, 90% of which are expected to drive.

Locally, AAA expects more than 1.3 million Philadelphia-area residents to travel, mostly by car. That number is "an increase of 2.6% over last year - representing the second highest travel volume for the holiday since 2001, behind only 2019," AAA said.  

Whether you're hauling to the airport or hitting the road, here's what you should know to keep your holiday travel merry and bright.

Holiday travel rush begins Thursday 01:02

At Philadelphia International Airport

There are 13,800 on-site parking spaces at PHL Airport, including 1,850 in the Economy Lot. It's $28 per day in the garage, or $15 a day in the Economy Lot, which includes a complimentary shuttle bus to and from the terminals.

TSA recommends arriving at the airport two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights, though more travelers means longer wait times. Thursday morning, general security line wait times were up to 18-28 minutes in some terminals.

Passengers should check with their airlines for the latest flight status information. Information about arriving and departing flights at PHL is posted online.

When packing your bag, remember that firearms are only allowed in checked baggage, and must be unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided container declared to your airline. Earlier this month, TSA at PHL Airport set a new record for the number of guns confiscated at security checkpoints.

Liquids, gels and aerosols must be 3.4 ounces or less per container, stored in a quart size, clear, plastic bag.

Holiday travel rush begins at Philadelphia International Airport 02:28

On the road

AAA anticipates more than 103 million people will drive during the holiday travel rush. Filling up the tank? Here's a look at gas prices around the region, according to AAA:

Pennsylvania: $3.43, down three cents from last week

New Jersey: $3.13, down two cents from last week

South Jersey: $3.06, down one cent from last week

Delaware: $3.07, up nine cents in the last week

National average: $3.12, up two cents in the last week

PennDOT's holiday enforcement period continues through New Year's day, and law enforcement agencies across the state will continue to conduct sobriety checkpoints and traffic patrols to crack down on drunk and impaired driving.

According to the agency, last year during the holiday season there were 14,342 crashes, resulting in 124 fatalities around Pennsylvania. Of those crashes, 1,111 were alcohol-related and 387 were drug-related.

Holiday travel rush begins at Philadelphia International Airport 03:14
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.