If you’re flying out of Los Angeles International Airport during the Thanksgiving holiday, brace yourself for huge crowds, long lines and a challenge finding parking.

Officials at LAX — the nation’s second-busiest airport — are preparing for the heaviest Thanksgiving traffic since before the pandemic, with about 200,000 passengers expected daily for the next 11 days.

Passenger travel is projected to peak on Nov. 27 — the Sunday after Thanksgiving — when more than 215,000 passengers are expected to pass through the airport, according to a press release from the Los Angeles World Airports.

These numbers are just slightly below the record-breaking 2019 Thanksgiving travel volume, and about 20,000 more passengers per day compared to 2021, said airport spokesperson Heath Montgomery.

“We are asking travelers to do their part to create a stress-free experience by planning their parking, arriving extra early and taking time to relax at the gate instead of circling with traffic,” said Justin Erbacci, chief executive of Los Angeles World Airports. “Our parking garages will be full and traffic will be heavy, so we are providing the tools for travelers to plan ahead for the best experience.”

Travelers are urged to prebook parking spaces online, as spots in the economy lots and central terminal garages are “likely to sell out.” Passengers flying on United and Southwest can also use the LAX Fast Lane program, which allows travelers on those airlines in Terminals 1, 7 and 8 to reserve — for free — a 15-minute window to go through security checkpoints in a faster, dedicated lane.

LAX officials said they expect the airport to be the busiest from 5 to 7 a.m. and from 9 to 10 a.m. each day.

Road trips are also projected to spike over the holiday weekend, with the American Auto Assn. predicting 54.6 million people nationwide will be traveling from Nov. 23 through Nov. Nov. 27, with the vast majority driving to their destinations.It would be the third-busiest Thanksgiving travel weekend since 2000, only behind 2019 and 2005, according to AAA.

Los Angeles highways are likely to be among the nation’s busiest, AAA predicted, and drivers should prepare for more than double normal delays, depending on the time of travel.

Grace Toohey

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