How to ease your way through the airport during busy holiday travel season

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(Source: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) (Source: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
(Source: Sky Harbor International Airport) (Source: Sky Harbor International Airport)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Tighter security. It’s everywhere these days, but nowhere is this more apparent than at the airport, particularly during the week of Thanksgiving, the busiest travel time of the year.

[RELATED: AAA expects 50 million Americans to travel over Thanksgiving]

While we may be used to most of the rigmarole by now, the folks at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport remind us it’s not just one of the busiest weeks of the year inside the terminals, but on the roads outside the airport, too.

So how can you go over the river and through the woods without losing your cool? Two words - be prepared.

Be the early bird!

You’ll do more than catch the worm, you’ll beat the crowds. Typically, the TSA recommends arriving 90 minutes before a domestic departure and two hours prior to an international departure.

For this busy time, give yourself at least two hours before a domestic departure and three hours for international. If you happen to breeze through a shorter-than-anticipated security line, so much the better. You can do a little shopping; Sky Harbor put together a catalog of great gift ideas -- all of which can be found in its shops. When you're finished with that, grab a cup of coffee or a delicious meal at one of the great restaurants in the terminals and relax before your sure-to-be-crowded flight.

[RELATED: Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport launches holiday catalog]

Plan ahead for parking

Did you know you can pre-book and pre-pay for your on-airport parking? It’s true! Just go to skyharbor.com/prepaidparking and book your space.

Another terrific option to avoid on-airport parking altogether? Try the 44th Street PHX Sky Train station. Located on the southwest corner of 44th and Washington streets, it’s easily accessible for pick-ups and -drop offs. Add in the fact you can print your boarding pass and/or check your bags right from the Sky Train station (Southwest, American, and United Airlines only), and you’ve got a great alternative to long-term parking.

[RELATED: Soar high above all the holiday traffic on the PHX Sky Train]

3-1-1 still in effect

Yep, for our carry-on bags, we’re still limited to liquids in 3.4-ounce/100 ml (or less) bottles, to fit into one 1-quart bag per person (3-1-1). Anything larger will need to be in your checked baggage. (Note: a partially empty full-size bottle does not cut it.)

[APP USERS: Click here for image comparing carry-on and checked bags]

But a relatively new wrinkle is also in effect. Liquid medications (prescription only) and “child nutrition” in “reasonable” quantities can be carried in your carry-on bags without being a part of those liquids fitting in your 1-quart bag. Juice, formula and breast milk are considered to be child nutrition, but if you have specific questions about other liquids, you can check the TSA website.

Shoes

Make it easy on yourself! Unless you have TSA Precheck, you’ll need to remove your shoes at the airport. As chic as they are, you’ll have a tough time making a fashion statement when you’re struggling to remove those tall, tight boots, let alone the time it takes on the other side to get them on again.

Slip-ons, or shoes with velcro closures, usually work best - and remember to wear fun socks so you don’t have to walk on that cold floor!

Bling

Personal opinion, leave your heirloom jewelry at home, but if you must bring your baubles, be prepared to spend a few extra minutes at security. If you wear them through the scanner - which these days you can do - you’ll likely be pulled aside to be wanded. If you pack them in your carry on, you may be asked to open your bag for additional inspection. And “bling” doesn’t just apply to ladies jewelry. Men with fancy belt buckles or some bola ties may leave themselves open for additional screening, too.

Pack your patience and get ready to enjoy the kick off of the holiday season! Don’t forget to reconfirm your flight times before you leave for the airport and know going in the airport terminals are going to be packed. Planning is key and will go a long way toward making your next flight a pleasant one.

[RELATED: When's the best time to buy holiday plane tickets?]

For the latest information from Phoenix Sky Harbor International, go to www.skyharbor.com. For travel updates from the TSA, check www.tsa.gov. For international travel updates, go to www.state.gov/travel.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Preferred Travel Services

[MORE: Travel blog]


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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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