You’re About to Travel for Thanksgiving. What the Hell Is Happening Out There?

Getting home for the holidays is really, really hard this year.

Stranded travelers in DenverPatrick Traylor/Getty

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Traditionally, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has been one of the busiest holiday travel days of the year. This week, 55 million Americans are expected to use planes, trains, cars, and buses to get to their loved ones by Thursday. But a combination of blizzards, severe wind, traffic, and a major protest at a major airport has made getting home a herculean effort. Okay, a nightmare.

At the Los Angeles International Airport, several hundred American Airline workers began their a protest for higher wages on Century Boulevard, just beyond the entrance ramp for the airport. The protest began on Tuesday evening and ended later that day with 16 arrests.

The protest caused such a large traffic jam that an ABC affiliate in Los Angeles reported that passengers were leaving their rideshare cars to walk to the airport. “I walked two miles from my Uber,” one woman told ABC. “We were siting for 30 minutes without moving so I just walked.”

More than 1,000 miles away in Denver, passengers didn’t have the option of walking to their destinations. After more than a foot of snow fell in the area on Tuesday, 1,100 people were forced to spend the night at Denver International Airport.

Alex Renteria, a spokeswoman for the airport, said 484 flights were canceled and another 508 were delayed. 

But it’s not just airline travelers who are being inconvenienced by the weather. A powerful winter storm swept through the midwest, causing impossible travel conditions for the residents of Minnesota and others in the region.

Even Smokey the Bear might be affected by the weather. Each year at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the bear and other iconic characters including Snoopy, SpongeBob, and Bart Simpson soar above the crowds who gather on the 2.5-mile route in New York City. But, the National Weather Service is predicting winds up to 26 miles per hour for Thanksgiving Day, meaning that balloons of a certain size may have to be grounded. After a woman was critically injured by a Cat in the Hat balloon in 1997, the city implemented new rules: If the winds exceed 23 miles per hour, no big balloons can fly.

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