Thanksgiving travel 2015: Cheap gas but fears of terrorism

LOS ANGELES (AP) — That other Thanksgiving tradition — congested highways and jammed airports — is getting underway with gas prices low and terrorism fears high.

An estimated 46.9 million Americans are expected to take a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend, according to the motoring organization AAA. That would be an increase of more than 300,000 people over last year, and the most travelers since 2007.

Among the reasons given for the increase: an improving economy and the cheapest gasoline for this time of year since 2008.

On Tuesday, some travelers were gearing up for an early exit.

Anyone trekking to a major airport should factor in 50 extra minutes on the road, according to the traffic date company INRIX — and that's just getting to the airport, never mind getting through security. Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the 8th busiest airport this holiday weekend in the country.

Though there have been no changes to the nation's terror alert status, the recent attacks in Paris, West Africa and elsewhere prompted the State Department to warn American travelers about the risks overseas.

On Tuesday, the head of the Transportation Security Administration, Peter Neffenger, boasted that the U.S. has the world's best aviation security and assured the public that TSA is "taking every measure to protect the millions of air travelers in the coming weeks."

Airfares have increased just 69 cents on average since last year, according to the Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes ticket transactions for airlines and travel agencies.

On Wednesday travelers in Charlotte can expect to see traffic jams around 11 a.m. and noon. Traveling on Thanksgiving Day would be best to avoid traffic.

Saturday is the best day to travel home, but traffic will pick up around 10 a.m. Sunday and there will be a gridlock between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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Joseph B. Frederick in New York contributed.

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