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airport line crowd crowded air travelAre you flying tomorrow for Thanksgiving? Brace yourself. Standing between you and your turkey dinner at Grandma’s could be a perfect storm of long lines and ticked-off travelers at the airport.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving has always been one of the year’s busiest travel days (to give you an idea, Boston’s Logan Airport is expecting 100,000 fliers tomorrow — about 30,000 more than normal). But this year, the combination of the TSA’s new security procedures and a traveler-led protest of those procedures could make the usual long holiday lines even worse.

Virginia resident Brian Sodergren created National Opt-Out Day to urge fliers to opt out of the TSA’s new full body scanners and go through a more time-consuming pat-down instead. He encourages fliers to be patted down in public because “Every citizen must see for themselves how the TSA treats law-abiding citizens.”

Frankly, considering that videos of the pat-downs have been splashed all over the media already for the last few weeks, I can’t imagine that the protest is going to raise too much awareness — or do much beyond irritating travelers who simply want to catch their flight and get home for Thanksgiving.

There’s no way to know how many travelers will take part in National Opt-Out Day until it happens, but here are some tips for getting through the airport as swiftly and smoothly as possible tomorrow:

Allow plenty of time. I generally recommend arriving two hours early for a non-peak domestic flight (longer for an international one). Tomorrow I’d allow three or four hours, just in case.

Know what to expect. The new scanners haven’t made it to every security line in every U.S. airport yet, so you may go through the same old metal detector that you’re already used to. But you’ll want to read up on the pat-downs and full body scanners as well so that you’re familiar with all of your options. The TSA offers a list of airports that have the new scanners (though there have been rumors that the list is not 100 percent accurate).

Be polite. Arguing with or abusing the security officers at the checkpoint is not only a great way to slow down your screening but also an unfair way to treat people who are simply carrying out policies they had no hand in creating. Many of them don’t like the TSA’s new procedures any more than you do. Consider a little Thanksgiving kindness to help get all of us through a potentially very rough day.

–written by Sarah Schlichter

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4 Responses to “National Opt-Out Day: The Nightmare Before Thanksgiving”

  1. Pemberton says:

    I have to say, I am pretty annoyed at this Brian person. Can’t he find a way to protest the TSA that won’t inconvenience thousands of passengers? Why not stay home and refuse to fly?

    Thanks for the tips. Hopefully everything will go smoothly tomorrow.

  2. SeaMarmot says:

    This is why I use my teleportation machine (skype) during the busiest holiday travel times — to avoid adwizards like Brian.

  3. soliteyah says:

    Heard on the news last night that Brian, the organizer, isn’t even flying today! He has no problem delaying thousands of people and asking them to go through public pat-downs while he hops in his car and drives to wherever he’s going. I can’t believe people aren’t making a big deal about his hypocrisy.

  4. Beth says:

    How about National “Do what the TSA says so everyone can get where they wanna go on time and not be an a-hole” day? Or better, national “STFU Brian, you idiot” day. I’m not even American and will not be flying this week, but man if I was and I had to deal with a bunch of jerks like these people, I would snap.

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