PLYMOUTH, Minn. – As Thanksgiving approaches and ushers in the first portion of this year’s very busy holiday travel season, travel agency network Travel Leaders is offering tips to make even the most casual of travelers a seasoned pro. Travel Leaders also cautions consumers who have held off on purchasing their holiday airline tickets to do so quickly since airline capacity has continued to shrink, making even fewer seats available.
“Travel Leaders reminds consumers that the busiest days at America’s airports are those immediately before or after a major holiday, so if you can avoid those days or travel on the holiday itself, you’re likely to not only find greater availability for airline seats, but you’re also more likely to find less hectic airports, too,” explained Roger E. Block, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Franchise Group. “Regardless of the day you travel, you will want to allow more time than normal in arriving at the airport – that’s because millions of infrequent travelers will be flying, too, and their relative familiarity with airport check-ins and security screenings could impact the amount of time needed to get you to your gate on time.”
According to Block, a recent poll of Travel Leaders travel agents nationally, taken September 12-26, 2011, showed that a plurality (44.5%) of these travel experts advise allowing at least an hour and a half before a departing flight under normal circumstances. “When throngs of travelers who are unfamiliar with check-in and security screening procedures are added to the mix, it’s critical to arrive at the airport even earlier than normal,” Block added. “The advent of millimeter wave Advanced Imaging Technology machines, which screen passengers for prohibited items that might be concealed under clothing, also has increased the time it takes to pass through many security screening stations across the country.”
Travel Leaders’ travel agent experts throughout the United States offer the following tips to pass through security quickly during the upcoming holiday season. Upon approach at airport security checkpoints, be prepared to:
Remove your coat or jacket and your shoes and place them in security trays for screening. Children are usually subject to these rules as well, and may need help with their coats and shoes.
Frequent travelers often opt for slip-on shoes like loafers to speed through the process; lace-up shoes can be difficult to take on and off.
Secure all liquids or gels in your carry-on bag in a clear, quart-size plastic bag and place it in a security tray. If you forget to prepare this bag at home, most airports have bags available at security checkpoints. Remember, each container of liquid or gel can be no more than three ounces, or it will be confiscated. The TSA refers to this rule as 3-1-1, meaning three ounce liquids or gels allowed in a single (one) one-quart bag.
Frequent travelers make sure that this bag is easy to reach upon approach to the security checkpoint and may even have it out before they approach.
Empty your pockets of change, keys, cell phones, combs, eyeglasses, etc., and put these items in a small security tray for screening. If you’re wearing a belt, you may also be asked to remove it as well.
Frequent travelers further help to speed up this process by minimizing the number of items they have to place in security trays. They often place these items into their carry-on bags prior to their approach through security screening.
Remove any computers or other large electronics (video game consoles, remote-control toys, etc.) from your carry-on bag.
Frequent travelers have purchased TSA-approved computer bags so they don’t have to remove their laptops for screening.
You may be in a hurry, but double-check that you’ve collected all of your belongings from the security trays before you leave the security checkpoint.
Frequent travelers will already have minimal items to retrieve because they’ve planned ahead.
“We also remind travelers that winter weather can often impede Thanksgiving and end-of-year holiday travel,” Block noted. “We strongly advise all our clients to keep our travel agents’ contact information stored on a fully-charged cell phone just in case they need our additional assistance at the airport due to flight delays or cancellations.”
Finally, Block adds, “Be sure to pack your patience while traveling for the holidays. After all, your holiday spirit can depend on it.”