Holiday Travel Rush Kicks Off

Posted November 16, 2007 6:49 a.m. EST
Updated November 16, 2007 5:13 p.m. EST

— The holiday travel season kicks off in earnest Friday, and flights are expected to be full of travelers heading to Thanksgiving festivities and then back home.

This year, more than 300,000 people are expected to travel through RDU International Airport – a 7 percent increase over the same time last year.

Travel experts warn most flights will be 90 percent full, which could add up to hassles and headaches for air travelers.

Even the country's top leaders are taking notice of the gridlock. President George W. Bush announced a fast fix for the holidays. He said the Pentagon will allow commercial airliners to use two air corridors off the eastern seaboard that are normally restricted to military flights.

Supplementing the dozen commercial air routes regularly used from Florida to New England, the military skypaths will create "a Thanksgiving express lane" for commercial airliners from 4 p.m. EST Wednesday through Sunday – the busiest days of Thanksgiving travel.

"By working together, we can restore the confidence of America's consumers, improve the efficiency of America's airports and bring order to America's skies," Bush said.

There is also a threat to slap airlines with hefty fines if flights are chronically late.

Airport officials said passengers should remember to allow themselves extra time for parking and security screening. Passengers should also remember that there are limits to what liquids and gels are allowed through security checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration has a Web site to help travelers check the rules ahead of time.