Local News

RDU Ready For Holiday Rush; Many Drive Instead Of Fly

Posted November 21, 2001 7:30 a.m. EST

— Travelers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport seem to have a renewed faith in flying this holiday season.

Parking lots were full and terminals packed during one of the busiest travel days of the year.

RDU took quite a few steps to ease concerns about delays, crowds and security during the Thanksgiving travel rush.

The National Guard increased its presence at RDU this week, and airport officials had hoped that would further ease concerns about safety.

RDU has also taken steps to cut down on delays with four additional Park and Ride shuttle buses.

"We are going to be averaging about 15 minutes. You shouldn't have to wait more than 15 minutes to get from the park and ride to the terminal," said Mirinda Kossoff, RDU spokesperson.

RDU temporarily hired 46 additional staff to assist with parking, terminal curb traffic and busing operations. An administrative team of 44 staff and 30 volunteer airport ambassadors are supporting front-line staff, assisting customers on the terminal curbs, in parking lots and in the terminals.

To speed the security checkpoint process, the checkpoint area at Terminal A has been increased from two processing lanes to four.

Tight security regulations present new challenges to airports and passengers, so travelers should allow plenty of time to get through traffic congestion, park their vehicles, check in and clear security.

To make holiday travel easier, RDU offers the following

travel tips:

Parking at the airport:

  • Arrive early. Airlines suggest you arrive two hours before scheduled departure to allow time for increased security checks and parking. Check with your airline for its recommendation.
  • Use Park and Ride lots. RDU's courtesy buses pick up every 15 minutes to take passengers to the terminals. The opening of Park and Ride lot 5 will provide an additional 800 paved spaces.
  • Follow the signs to available parking. Electronic signs will provide current information on lots and availability.
  • Write down where you parked so you can easily find your vehicle when you return.
  • Listen to 1610 AM for parking information.
  • Passengers being dropped off or picked up:

  • Arrive early, at least two hours before your airline's departure, to allow time for increased security checks.
  • Discuss details about airline, arrival time and exact meeting place.
  • No waiting in vehicles is allowed at curbside and no unattended vehicles are allowed at curbside; curbside is reserved for active drop-off and pick-up only.
  • Check-in:

  • Curbside check-in has been reinstated in most cases, but check with the airline first.
  • Bring at least one government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license) for check-in and security screening and be ready to show it several times before the flight.
  • New FAA regulations stipulate only one carry-on bag and one personal carry-on, such as a handbag or briefcase; check all other luggage. Laptops must be removed from their cases and scanned separately at the checkpoint.
  • Do not pack knives, cutting or puncturing implements of any kind in carry-on luggage.
  • Do not pack wrapped gift packages. Heightened security measures require that packages be unwrapped and examined, which will slow the check-in process. If possible, mail or ship packages ahead of time.
  • Make sure luggage is clearly labeled, and do not take anything from strangers.
  • Do not leave luggage unattended.
  • Cooperate with increased security regulations if you and/or your baggage -- both checked and carry-on -- are searched.
  • Since last year's holiday rush, the airport has invested nearly $50 million in parking and facilities improvements.

    RDU officials say 200,000 travelers are expected to pass through the terminals this week, which is 50,000 fewer passengers than last year.

    A record number of North Carolinians are expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving this year, due to a fear of flying and low fuel costs.

    Gas prices in North Carolina average $1.12 a gallon, eight cents less than the national average and 33 cents cheaper than last Thanksgiving.

    According to an annual survey by the Travel Industry Associations, highway travel in the Southeast will increase by 1.1 percent this Thanksgiving, which will put nearly 860,000 Tar Heel drivers on the road.

    The state Department of Transportation says most work zones on interstate and U.S. routes in North Carolina will be open during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, but there will be lane closings and detours.

    On the interstates, I-26 in Polk County is reduced to one lane in each direction from mile marker 38 to 40 to continue the rehabilitation of two bridges over the Pacolet River. I-85/40 in Guilford County will have a lane closed in each direction from McConnell Road to Rock Creek Dairy Road.

    U.S. 64 in Clay County will have periodic lane closings from the Hiwassee River near Hayesville to Phillips Road.

    N.C. 28 in Graham County is down to one lane in each direction from the Swain County line to Upper Panther Creek Road.

    When it comes to driving for the Thanksgiving holiday, an experts in stress management says to chill.

    Dr. Redford Williams is an expert at Duke University Medical Center, and he says one way to relieve anger is to take control when traveling this weekend.

    Williams says let the other person pull in front of you in traffic. He also says if you are traveling by air, be patient and realize that the delays are something we all have to put up with.

    Overall, Williams says the best way to avoid frustration and anger is to be polite to fellow travelers.