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Advice for Thanksgiving travelers: arrive at the airport early

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo

Record numbers of travelers are expected to be flying this year according to the Transportation Security Administration, and TSA officials are using the Thanksgiving holiday to remind travelers how to make the best of a busy situation.

While next Wednesday is traditionally one of the busiest travel days of the year, Christina Callahan, Executive Director of Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, is expecting longer lines at the airport before then.

“In talking to the station managers at the airlines, as early as this weekend we’re going to see more people than normal because of the upcoming holiday,” said Callahan.

That means preparation is key, especially in getting through the TSA security checkpoints in an efficient manner. Central New York’s TSA spokeswoman, Lisa Farbstein, says the other thing about Thanksgiving travel, is you tend to see people who don’t usually fly; older family members or families with young children.

“They’re gonna have a stroller, diaper bag, baby formula, a car seat, plus they’re going to have toddlers running around that they’re going to try and corral,” said Farbstein.

The key to making a seamless trip, according to experts, is getting to the airport early. In Syracuse, that means arriving in plenty of time before a flight.  

“Getting here 90 minutes, two hours is preferable. Get enough time to park, check a bag if you want to check it with the airline, go through security,” said Callahan.

And going through security means taking off shoes, following the 3-1-1 rule for liquids and taking laptops out of bags. The advice from Bart Johnson, the federal security director for Central New York, is to have a good frame of mind and don’t get testy about the rules. They’re there to keep travelers safe.

“Just take the time and effort to stop and think about what you’re going to undergo in travel,” said Johnson. “How you pack, how you arrive and your frame of mind. And just remember that officers are doing their job.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.