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Proper planning can make holiday travel stress melt away

Posted December 19, 2011

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— The holiday travel season has been underway since before Thanksgiving, but it will hit its peak this week when millions of people cram highways and airports to visit family members. 

For the long-distance travelers who have to get on planes, the stress of getting to an airport, making it through security and actually arriving at the gate on time can bump stress levels up a few notches. 

Despite the uptick in stress, however, officials with the Transportation Security Administration say there are ways to make getting through those security check points easier. Traffic flow map WRAL On-Time Traffic

To start, knowing all of the rules and regulations is a must. It makes the process more efficient and can prevent backups at already clogged checkpoint lines. 

According to TSA federal security director Michael Zunk, having a stress-free experience at the airport starts before travelers even arrive. 

"Make sure you give yourself time to park the car, get your tickets and check your bags," he said. "If you have bags to check, it's going to take longer."

Zunk said the TSA recommends getting to the airport at least two hours before any flight. Holiday Guide promo 400x300 Holiday Guide: Events, gifts, recipes, photos

Once inside, make sure to have all of the necessary paperwork -- ID and boarding passes -- easily accessible. TSA officers direct travelers through lines based on readiness. Those with tickets and IDs and laptops in hand will go through one line while families with strollers or travelers with special needs will pass through another.  

Due to some changes in the security screening process, children under 12 no longer have to remove their shoes when passing through the line, but everyone else still does. Laptops still have to be taken out of bags as well. 

airport security Proper planning can make holiday travel stress melt away

"Take everything out of your pockets and put it in your suit coat, because you're going to take you suit coat off, right?" Zunk said. "And the ladies I always tell them to put everything in their purse."

Zunk said the rules about liquids are still what hold people up the most during visits to airports. No liquids more than 3.4 ounces are allowed on planes. 

"You got an 8 ounce bottle but it only has 3 ounces of liquid in it. Well, if it says 8 ounce bottle, it can't travel," Zunk said. 

In an attempt to help speed up the security screening process in the Triangle this year, all 10 security lines will be open at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Zunk said. 

Changes at the RDU terminal could impact travel as well. US Airways, Continental and Jet Blue have moved to the new Terminal 2 building. Air Tran and Southwest Airlines are still located in Terminal 1, but the tunnel from the parking lot to Terminal 1 is closed for renovation. 

There is a covered walkway at ground level that leads passengers from the garage to the terminal. 

RDU has a complete list of tips designed to make traveling easier on its website. 

For those taking to the roads in the next week, the state Department of Transportation suggests using a smart phone to avoid delays. The DOT publishes alerts for highway, ferry and train traffic for mobile devices. On Twitter, the DOT offers updates by route and region

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  • smegma Dec 21, 2011

    no matter how many times you suggest all of this, the vacation/holiday travel sheeple will never ever listen