1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to footer


Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 9:22 AM - For Immediate Release

SMF Offers Essential Thanksgiving Travel Tips for Passengers

As families across the nation gear up for Thanksgiving celebrations, Sacramento International Airport (SMF) anticipates a significant surge in travelers during the upcoming holiday weekend. With the busiest travel days of the year falling on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, SMF is prepared to assist more than 100,000 passengers between November 21 and November 26. Popular destinations for Thanksgiving travelers flying out of SMF include Hawaii, Southern California, Mexico, Las Vegas, and Seattle.

To ensure a smooth travel experience, SMF offers the following tips for passengers heading out this Thanksgiving:

1. Arrive Early: To avoid stress, travelers are strongly encouraged to arrive at least 2.5 hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights. The airport experiences high traffic on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so early arrival is crucial. Peak travel times for departures are between 6am and 8am.

2. Parking Preparation: SMF recommends passengers using their own vehicles to navigate directly to available parking lots. Due to high demand, the garage, daily, and hourly lots often fill up quickly, leading to closures. Real-time parking availability information is accessible on the Airport's Parking Status Webpage. Given the high demand for parking, economy lots remain the most viable and reliable option. Shuttle service to and from the economy lots might take longer during peak hours, so passengers should plan accordingly.

3. Rideshare and Public Transportation: Consider utilizing rideshare services like Lyft, Uber, and Wingz, or opt for public transportation such as Sacramento Regional Transit District's route 142, which offers express service between the airport and downtown. Taxis are also available for travelers' convenience.

4. Insider Tips: For those picking up passengers, use the Free Waiting Area until they are ready for pickup. Check-in kiosks are available throughout the terminal before security checkpoints, allowing travelers to bypass crowds at the main desks.

5. Expedited Screening Options: Travelers can expedite their security screening process by enrolling in TSA Pre✓, available at SMF. The application center, located in the southeast corner of Level 1 of Terminal B, operates from 8 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Additionally, CLEAR subscribers can enjoy expedited identification verification in the security line, with membership available on the CLEAR website.

The Sacramento County Department of Airports is responsible for planning, developing, operating and maintaining the county’s four airports: Sacramento International Airport, Executive Airport, Mather Airport and Franklin Field. Sacramento International Airport offers more than 155 daily nonstop flights on 12 domestic and international carriers to 36 destinations. The regional economic impact of the Sacramento County Department of Airports is more than $4 billion annually. For more information, visit