4 free apps you need for Thanksgiving travel: airport security wait times, holiday road traffic and more

Kayak mobile app
A screenshot of Kayak’s mobile app showing how it displays security wait times with a traveler’s itinerary.

Los Angeles International Airport says it’s expecting 2.3 million travelers to pass through this year between last Friday and Monday (Nov. 28). 

The Wednesday before and the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving will be busiest, an airport news release says. The airport is warning travelers to expect heavy traffic on those days and arrive extra early to avoid missing a flight.

Here are four free mobile apps that can help navigate airports and the roads over Thanksgiving and any upcoming holiday.

1. Kayak: Fans of this free app will thrill to a newly launched feature that estimates real-time wait times for airport security lines. The app uses Waze-like crowd-sourcing (yep, you can upload your own information) and Transportation Security Administration data, according to a company news release.


Kayak’s mobile app also adds airport terminal maps for 34 of the world’s largest airports, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Ontario and San Jose in California.

An added perk: You can send your travel plans to and receive an itinerary that comes with updates on flight delays, gate changes and security wait times. 

2. flightSpeak: This free app also recently launched a new airport security wait time feature. It’s called CheckPoint, and it provides wait times at 50 of America’s largest airports. Plans are to expand the feature to 300 airports worldwide. And you can add your own data to the mix too.

The mobile app provides airport tips on where to find Wi-Fi, places to shop, ratings on restaurants and other amenities.  


3. MyTSA: This is the federal agency’s official website, with information available by computer or mobile app. My TSA provides terminal-by-terminal wait times at airport security and allows you to post yours. You can also query what items are allowed  in carry-on (use the “Can I bring?” search function). 

4. Waze: AAA says about 48.7 million people will be on the move over Thanksgiving, and 89% will be driving. If you haven’t left on your Thanksgiving road trip, expect the worst. Waze reports the worst time to hit L.A. roads is between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday (which the worst time being 6 p.m.) and between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday (the peak hitting around 3 p.m.). 

Waze bases its estimates on last Thanksgiving’s traffic data. The app notes that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (no surprise) is the worst time to take off. It predicts a 37% increase in accident alerts and a 30% increase in traffic jam alerts, a company release says.

Thursday through Saturday are deemed “great days to drive,” but L.A.’s roads clog up again Sunday. Keep the app handy to plan your escape route when the going gets tough.


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