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Ready for Takeoff: Holiday Rush Begins at RDU

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Many travelers took flight early to beat the holiday rush.(WRAL-TV5 News)
RDU INTERNATIONAL — Modern-day pilgrims are lining up at RDU International Airport to head home for the holidays.

Officials expect close to 250,000 travelers to pass through RDU between Wednesday and Monday morning. That is a 20 percent increase from last year's holiday totals.

Indeed, the airport is trying to accommodate the explosive growth it has seen recently. This year, holiday travelers have 4,500 new parking spaces and eight new shuttle buses to work with.

"I won't go out on a limb and say there won't be any nightmares, but we are in really good shape," says RDU spokesman Mike Blanton.

Among other improvements for holiday travelers this year:
  • RDU has expanded the security checkpoint waiting area inside Terminal A. People no longer have to wait on the steps to pass through the X-ray machines
  • A new section of Park and Ride #3 opened last week. It has 2,000 more spaces, which almost doubles the number of available parking spaces in the lot.
  • This is also the first Thanksgiving that travelers will be able to use the new parking deck outside of Terminal A.
  • WRAL'sJulia Lewisand chief photographerRichard Adkinstested three different parking options, measuring the amount of time it took to get from the car to the ticket counter.

    From the new parking deck, it took about four minutes to get to the terminal. From Park & Ride #1, they got to the counter in about seven-and-a-half minutes. It took more than 10 minutes to reach the terminal from Park & Ride #3.

    The parking costs are proportionate to the amount of time it took us to reach the terminals. Each day of parking at the new parking deck costs $6, $4 in Park & Ride #1 and $3 in Park & Ride #3.

    Even with this year's airport improvements, RDU officials are repeating their familiar mantra: Get to the airport early.