CHARLOTTE, NC — For the many North Carolina residents with flights booked for what is expected to be a record Thanksgiving weekend throughout the U.S., officials have some tips to keep the hassles to a minimum. Industry officials say this Thanksgiving season more than 2.4 million passengers per day are expected to pass through security checkpoints nationwide each day leading up to Thanksgiving.
The busiest travel days will be Nov. 21 and 22, the Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of Thanksgiving and Nov. 26, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, says Lisa Farbstein, acting director of media relations for the Transportation Security Administration. Thanksgiving will be the lightest travel day if you still need to book a flight. Airlines are adding flights to accommodate the large number of travelers during the Thanksgiving period.
Charlotte Airport restaurants are also preparing for travelers looking for a Thanksgiving dinner. Brookwood Farms BBQ and 1897 Market, both located in the airport’s Atrium, will be serving hot holiday meals. At 1897 Market, the special menu will include roast Turkey with Macaire potato hash, baby squash, gravy and cranberry. Brookwood Farms’ holiday menu will include smoked Turkey with sweet potato casserole, cornbread dressing, braised greens, turkey gravy, cranberry and pecan pie.
To help get passengers get in and out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the hourly parking garage adjacent to the terminal is free for the first hour to pick up or drop off family members or friends.
The airport is relocating its Cell Phone Lot to a new 150-space area as of Saturday, Nov. 18, to Long Term Lot 1. The new location will give direct access to the airport terminal while drivers wait away from the airport terminal until arriving passengers call.
For those traveling to and through Charlotte’s airport, the expected increase in air traffic means more congestion on airport roadways and inside terminals. To help make for a faster trip, here are tips for airport travelers:
Plan Before You Go
Pack smart – Know your airline’s checked bag policies and fees, remember not to pack laptops and other devices with lithium ion batteries in your checked bags, leave gifts unwrapped and pack liquids you plan to carry-on with you according to the 3-1-1 rule. Check with your airline – Confirm your flight status and gate location before departing for the airport, and make sure you’re aware of airline policies regarding check-in times, boarding processes, fees and rebooking options. Leave early – Allow for extra time getting to and through the airport, as holiday travel can cause backups on roadways and longer passenger queues throughout the terminal. Experts recommend arriving at the airport at least two hours before domestic departures and three hours before international departures.
Minimize Your Wait
Prepare for new screening procedures – The TSA is implementing new screening procedures which require passengers to remove electronic devices larger than a cell phone from carry-on baggage. The TSA also recommends placing food items in bins for easier screening. Pack your carry-ons accordingly by putting items like electronics, toiletries and food in easily accessible places. Enroll in a trusted traveler program – Trusted traveler programs like TSA Pre✓® and CLEARprovide passengers an easy alternative to standard screening procedures and speed-up the security screening process. If traveling abroad, consider enrolling in Global Entry or using Mobile Passport to expedite Customs processing upon your return.
General Airport Tips
Re-confirm the status of your flight with your airline before arriving at the airport. Expect full flights and full luggage bins on board. Bring government-issued I.D. for all adult travelers and passports for all travelers on international trips. Keep valuables out of plain sight and pack them in carry-on luggage only. Remember to lock cars and take the key.
The Transportation Security Administration says these are the peak travel times with the longest waits:
Saturday, 6 to 8 am and 1 to 2 pm Sunday, 6 to 8 am and 4 to 7 pm Monday, 5 to 8 am and 3 to 6 pm Tuesday, 6 to 8 am and 3 to 5 pm Wednesday, 6 to 8 am and 4 to 5 pm Thursday, 5 to 8 am and 4 to 7 pm Friday, 5 to 8 am and 3 to 5 pm
Travel booking website KAYAK has a feature on its app (for both iOSand Android devices) that lets you check the estimated security line wait times, which is collected through real-time feedback from app users and the TSA website.
To help speed the security screening process, travelers should arrive early at the airport, authorities say, preferably two hours ahead of a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight to ensure they have time to park or return rental cars, check their bags, get a boarding pass and hit the restroom — all before heading to the security checkpoint.
But it’s more than about arriving early. You should also prepare ahead of time by following the 3-1-1 rule: when packing toiletries, have no more than 3.4 ounces of liquid in a 1-quart plastic bag, and no more than one bag for every person.
Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off as you go through security screening. Empty your pockets before heading through the checkpoint screening equipment. Also, make sure you don’t have any prohibited items.
“The most common mistake that passengers make is that they have items that are prohibited at a checkpoint—mainly oversize liquids and various knives that are in their carry-on bags,” the TSA says. “Prohibited items detected at a checkpoint will slow a checkpoint line. They require bag-checks, tests for traces of explosives and finally, rescreening through the X-ray equipment and can add a few minutes to the amount of time it takes an individual to complete the screening process.”
Travelers are encouraged to follow these tips:
Prepare for security when packing. Put large liquids, gels, creams and aerosols into checked bags — think shampoo, conditioner, suntan lotion, shaving cream and anti-perspirant. If you’ve only got a carry-on bag, make sure all of your liquids follow the 3-1-1 rule. Follow 3-1- 1 liquids rule for your carry-on bag. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all bottles must fit in a single quart-size plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. This includes sun block and tanning sprays. Let the TSA officer know right away if you’re traveling with larger quantities of medically-necessary liquid medications or breast milk or formula for an infant. Documents ready: When you enter the checkpoint line have an acceptable ID and boarding pass out of your wallet and ready to hand to the TSA officer. Once you get to the screening tables, remove large electronics including laptops and the 3-1- 1 liquids bag, from carry-on baggage. Less accessories: Consider minimizing items that you wear to the airport such as bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories, large belts and other bulky items that are likely to require additional screening. Remove all items from your pockets and put them into one of your carry-on bags so you won’t lose them. @AskTSA: If you have questions on what is allowed through the security checkpoint, contact a TSA employee for live assistance 365 days a year via Twitter. Tweet your questions and comments to @AskTSA from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends/holidays. Call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 1-855- 787-2227 with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint 72 hours prior to traveling. ###liDHS trusted traveler comparison tool. These programs give travelers access to TSA Pre✓expedited screening lanes; those passengers do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets at more than 180 U.S. airports. For more information about TSA Pre✓, visit the frequently asked questions page on the TSA.gov website. Tweet or Message AskTSA. Issues receiving TSA Pre✓ on your boarding pass? Unsure if an item is allowed through security? Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also reach the Contact Center at 866-289-9673.
Patch Editor Deb Belt contributed to this report.
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