HUNTSVILLE – Holiday travel season traffic has started with a prediction of 30 million passengers flying for Thanksgiving festivities.
That number is from the Transportation Safety Administration which began counting the Thanksgiving travel period last Friday and will complete the count Nov. 28. The busiest day for flights is expected Sunday with an estimated 2.9 million passengers taking to the air.
Huntsville International Airport is experiencing record passenger traffic this year, and parking, ticketing lines and the TSA checkpoint are expected to be busier than ever before.
“HSV is convenient and passengers can typically get through TSA speedily, but travelers will see several construction projects that could impact arrival at the airport,’’ said Mary Swanstrom, Public Relations manager at Huntsville International Airport. “Travelers should arrive at least two hours prior to departure time to allow plenty of time to park, check bags and process through the TSA security checkpoint during this heavy travel period.’’
According to a HSV news release, car traffic is reduced to one inbound lane on Glenn Hearn Boulevard due to the construction of a new cell phone waiting lot. Parking is also nearing capacity, and if travelers are driving in, they should allow extra time to search for a spot.
Inside the terminal, the concourse connector construction project will begin impacting passengers the week following Thanksgiving as they will be routed through temporary passageways post-TSA.
Travelers might experience the biggest delays if they have prohibited items packed in carry-on bags. The traveler must then leave the TSA checkpoint to go back to the ticket counter to check their bag, or the prohibited items must be disposed of or stored in a parked car. Firearms at the checkpoint are a big concern.
“Firearms are not allowed in carry-on bags, and they can’t be carried through the TSA checkpoint,’’ Swanstrom said.
Guns are allowed in checked bags, but they must be unloaded, packaged in a locked, hard-sided case and declared to the airline at check-in. Passengers should still check with their airline for the latest information on traveling with firearms, and they should know the gun laws of the state they will be visiting.
“It’s better to be prepared for the checkpoint and not be surprised and delayed when you get to it,’’ Swanstrom said. “Your trip starts at home when you are packing. Start with a completely empty bag, and use the handy TSA Travel Checklist posted at TSA.gov and at flyhuntsville.com/FAQs as a guide.’’
When in doubt about packing food, alcohol and gifts, consult TSA’s “What Can I Bring’’ guide at TSA.gov.
“You’ll find detailed information about pretty much anything you might want to take on your trip,’’ she added.
HSV offers these tips for Thanksgiving travelers (see more at TSA.gov):
- Pack smart. Start with an empty bag, you will be less likely to pack a prohibited item by mistake.
- Pack the fun, not the gun in your carry-on. Firearms must be packed in a checked bag only, unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided case.
- Check the size of your luggage. Research any restrictions on bag size with your airline.
- Bring an acceptable ID and have it ready. Travelers should make sure they have an acceptable government-issued photo ID.
- Arrive early. Enjoy frustration-free travel with plenty of time to check in, get through security and settle in. Bring a book, personal music or movies and relax before your flight.
- Text TSA with questions at #275-872. You can also DM them through Facebook Messenger.
- Call ahead to request passenger support. Travelers or caregivers of passengers who need assistance are encouraged to contact their airline in advance to make arrangements for assisted travel.
- If you see something, say something. Remain aware of your surroundings while in the airport. Report suspicious activities to any employee in the airport, or call 256-461-1116.