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Airport gearing up for Thanksgiving travel

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials predict that 1.7 million passengers will travel through the airport this week, to and from their Thanksgiving destinations.

According to Ben DeCosta, aviation general manager for Hartsfield-Jackson, the airport's busiest day over the Thanksgiving travel period is expected to be Nov. 30.

"It's a busy holiday travel season this year," he said.

DeCosta said Hartsfield-Jackson has scheduled extra customer-care members to work throughout the airport.

Before heading to Atlanta's airport, passengers are encouraged to visit the airport's web site to check their flight information, and the airport's Trak-a-Line service, which electronically updates passengers on security checkpoint area wait times, he said.

Passengers should arrive an hour and a half, to two hours, before their flight is scheduled to depart from Hartsfield-Jackson, said DeCosta.

Passengers can call 1(877) ATL-PARK for information on the 30,000 on-site parking spaces at the airport.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has opened all 32 security checkpoint lanes for the busy holiday travel season at Hartsfield-Jackson, said Jon Allen, Southeast public affairs manager for the TSA.

"This holiday travel season is here and TSA is [fully] staffed," said Mary Leftridge Byrd, federal security director for the TSA in Atlanta.

She said passengers should have their identification and boarding passes on hand when waiting in line at security checkpoint areas at Hartsfield-Jackson. This will assist TSA officers in quickly identifying each passenger.

When approaching the X-ray screening area, passengers should remove their shoes and jackets, and place them on the belt, or in a bin, said Leftridge Byrd. Passengers should wear shoes that are easy to remove, to help speed up the screening process.

"We [TSA] continue to see positive improvements with the checkpoint expansion last year," Leftridge-Byrd said during a press conference Tuesday.

In October, 2008, the airport added 10 new security lanes. That year, airport officials reported nearly 1.5 million travelers passing through Hartsfield-Jackson over the Thanksgiving travel period, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 1, 2008.

Passengers who would like to take liquids, aerosols and gels in their carry-on bags should remember the 3-1-1 rule when traveling, said Leftridge Byrd.

According to TSA's 3-1-1 rule, liquids, aerosols and gels that are placed in carry-on bags should be contained in three-ounce bottles. The liquids, gels and aerosols should be placed in a one-quart, clear, zip-top bag. Passengers may carry only one bag in their carry-on luggage.

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On the net:

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: www.atlanta-airport.com

Transportation Security Administration: www.tsa.gov