Traveling to or From Chicago This Thanksgiving Holiday? Here's What To Know

Traveling this Thanksgiving? You're joining 53 million other people doing so.

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One of the busiest travel weeks of the year -- Thanksgiving -- also comes as the deadline for TSA workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

More than 53 million people are expected to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday this year according to AAA, but Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday he's seen "no indication" that the looming COVID-19 mandate for federal workers would create travel issues.

The vaccine mandate for federal workers, which includes religious and medical exemptions but does not include a weekly testing alternative, will go into effect Monday, just three days before Thanksgiving.

COVID-19 Guidance Around Thanksgiving Travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month announced updated guidance around traveling for Thanksgiving this year, encouraging travelers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The guidance also suggests wearing masks in public indoor settings.

Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, regardless of vaccination status.

Last week, the CDC endorsed booster shots of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for all U.S. adults over the age of 18.

Under the new rules, anyone age 18 and older can choose either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine booster shot six months after their last dose.

For those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the wait already was just two months.

If You're Traveling Through Chicago Airports This Thanksgiving

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, 1.2 million passengers are expected to pass through Chicago O'Hare International Airport this week, and 288,000 are expected to pass through Chicago Midway International Airport.

Airport officials advise getting to the airport with plenty of time ahead of your flight. If you're ordering a Lyft or Uber, schedule the ride in advance.

You can check O'Hare security wait times here, and Midway security wait times here.

If You're Traveling By Car Through Chicago This Thanksgiving

Chicago is predicted to be one of the worst corridors for holiday traffic this week, according to AAA, with more than triple the delays expected.

The worst traffic is expected on Wednesday heading into the holiday weekend, as commuters leave work early to hit the road and mix with holiday travelers.

According to AAA, peak congestion is expected in the Chicago area on I-294 West from Morgan Street to Wolfe Road on Wednesday, Nov. 24, between 2:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.

At that time, traffic is predicted to be 329 percent over normal.

Best Times for Road Travel on Thanksgiving Week

According to AAA and INRIX, the best times for road travel are:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 24: After 9 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 25: Before 11 a.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 26: Before 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 27: Before 12 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 28: Before 12 p.m.

Worst Times for Road Travel on Thanksgiving Week

  • Wednesday, Nov. 24: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 25: 12 p.m. - 3 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 26: 1 p.m,. - 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 27: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 28: 1 p.m. - 7 p.m.

AAA recommends checking COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map for travel restrictions near you, and to stay up-to-date on traffic and closures in your area.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released its recommendations for holiday gatherings and related travel, saying that the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible. 

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