Holiday Travel

New federal airport screeners and tighter security rules are in place to handle the Thanksgiving rush expected at airports across Alabama.

AAA said travel will be up about 1.7 percent nationally from last year.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety estimates that 17 people may die in traffic accidents during the 102-hour Thanksgiving Holiday travel period that begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday and ends at midnight Sunday.

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Airport Travel Tips

Before Travel

  • Understand that all approved airlines have worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that airport facilities and aircraft meet all security requirements.

  • Book with confidence. E-Tickets remain available and offer optimal flexibility to customers.

How to Pack

  • Airport security screening procedures are significantly more stringent than before. Items in one's suitcase that may have passed through before may not be accepted onboard aircraft today.

  • Complete a personal luggage inventory. Empty out items always packed in the suitcase. Look at each item and evaluate whether an object could be scrutinized by airport security. (This includes items found in manicure kits, etc.) Consider removal of anything that could be perceived as threatening, or may raise suspicion at a security screening checkpoint. No knives of any size will be accepted.

  • Anticipate having to open a bag for security inspection. Pack efficiently, placing smaller items together in a pouch or bag. Avoid over packing so that carryon luggage and checked suitcases open and close with ease.

  • Make sure that each suitcase has a name tag securely affixed to it.

  • Verify possession of a government-issued photo identification card or passport. Customers will not be allowed to check-in without proper identification.

  • Bring E-Ticket confirmation to the airport (may not apply).

Getting to the Airport

  • Bring E-Ticket confirmation to the airport.

  • Travelers are encouraged to arrive at the airport at least two hours before scheduled departure for domestic flights, and at least two-and-one-half hours before international flights.

Upon Arrival at Airport

  • Leave no vehicle or baggage unattended.

  • Aircraft security will be completing thorough sweeps of airport properties. Expect to see an increased presence of law enforcement personnel outside and inside the terminal building.

  • Proceed inside the terminal with luggage. Curbside check-in and off site airport checked baggage options are unavailable.

  • E-Ticket and paper ticket customers with luggage to check may proceed to the ticket counter. Maintain baggage receipts for verification at destination.

At the Security Checkpoint

  • Access beyond security restricted to passengers and employees only.

  • Have ticket paperwork available, along with ID. Prepare to empty pockets of coins, metals, etc. Prepare to demonstrate operation of electronic equipment such as laptops, cell phones, etc.

  • Do not make jokes about security. Comply with all security instructions.

  • Expect increased passenger and baggage security screening. Wand checks and full-body hand searches may be expected.

At the Gate

  • Leave no bag unattended. Maintain sense of awareness. Expect to see law enforcement personnel and dogs.

  • Keep ticket paperwork and identification available.

  • Expect to see teams of individuals board the aircraft before general passenger boarding in order to sweep the aircraft as an added security precaution. These individuals may board the aircraft from inside the terminal building, or may enter and exit via jet bridge stairs.

  • Pay attention to announcements. Board the aircraft as directed by gate agents. Do not wait until the last minute to board the aircraft.

Onboard the Aircraft

  • Expect to see random searches of service personnel, flight crews, and equipment.

  • Listen to and follow crew instructions at all times. Flight crews are trained to ensure passenger safety and comfort.

  • Be patient if departure is delayed. Passenger boarding and baggage loading are being carefully coordinated by ground handling crew.

Upon Arrival at Destination

  • Proceed through the terminal beyond security. Meeting parties will be restricted to areas outside security checkpoints.

  • Have luggage receipts available when retrieving luggage for verification.

Items Prohibited From Aircraft

  • Knives of any length, composition or description
  • Cutting instruments of any kind and composition, including carpet knives and box cutters (and spare blades), any device with a folding or retractable blade, ice picks, straight razors, metal scissors and metal nail files.
  • Corkscrews
  • Baseball/softball bats
  • Golf clubs
  • Pool cues
  • Ski poles
  • Hockey sticks
  • When in doubt, transport item in checked baggage

Permitted Items

  • Walking canes and umbrellas (once inspected to ensure prohibited items are not concealed)
  • Nail clippers
  • Safety razors (including disposable razors)
  • Syringes (with documented proof of medical need)
  • Tweezers
  • Eye lash curlers

General Tips

  • If you will be renting a car, get maps in advance and clearly write out the directions from the airport to your hotel. If you need to stop for directions, go to well-lit public areas. Keep the phone numbers of your destinations with you.

  • Lock your car doors while driving. Do not pick up strangers or stop for people you don't know. Police cars will have blue and red lights; do not stop for cars flashing their high-beams.

  • Close and lock your hotel room door at all times. Check sliding glass doors, windows and connecting room doors. Don't answer your hotel room door without verifying who it is. If someone claims to be a hotel employee, call the front desk to verify.

  • When returning to your hotel at night, use the main entrance. Be observant before entering parking lots.

Source: www.faa.gov (Federal Aviation Administration Web site) contributed to this report.


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