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Thanksgiving travel to rise at Hartsfield-Jackson

It's that time of year again. The world's busiest airport is about to get even busier. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is expecting a 3 percent increase in Holiday travel, during the seven-day Thanksgiving period this year, over last year, according to Katena Carvajales, spokeswoman for Atlanta's airport.

The holiday period is from Tuesday, Nov. 22, to Monday, Nov. 28.

The airport is expecting 1.7 million passengers overall during this time, added Aviation General Manager Louis Miller.

On an average day, Miller said, the airport receives 30,000 to 40,000 passengers, but forecasts predict there will be 54,000 passengers on Nov. 22, and 57,000 travelers on Nov. 23 — numbers well above an average day, he added.

"We are excited to welcome another holiday season, and are well-prepared to get passengers to their destinations," said Miller. "Customers should follow these simple steps to reduce stress and enjoy a pleasant travel experience."

Spokeswoman Carvajales said travelers should arrive 90 minutes before a domestic flight, and two hours prior to an international flight. People can sign up for Trak-a-Flight by visiting the airport's web site, www.atlanta-airport.com. This is a free service, which sends updated flight information to e-mail accounts, PDAs or cell phones, she said.

Passengers can also visit the web site to check security wait times, through Trak-a-Line, which provides current checkpoint wait times also through e-mail accounts and mobile devices, she said.

The Transportation Security Administration has some tips of its own, including common reminders, such as its 3-1-1 rule.

Mary Leftridge Byrd, TSA's federal security director for Hartsfield-Jackson, said the rule allows travelers to carry no more than a three-ounce bottle for all liquids, gels and aerosols. The liquid bottles must be placed in one quart-sized clear, plastic, zip-top bag. There is only one bag per passenger on the screening bin, she said.

The 3-1-1 rule only applies to carry-on bags, she advised. Larger quantities of liquids may be carried in checked baggage.

Byrd said TSA is fully prepared at Hartsfield-Jackson, and assures passengers that security and safety is always its top priority.

"The busy holiday season is here, and as always, TSA is fully staffed and prepared," she said.

TSA officials said passengers should have their identification handy, coats and shoes off, and laptops and 3-1-1 bags out for the screening process.

It is recommended that passengers not travel with wrapped packages, because they may need to be unwrapped and inspected. Snow globes are not permitted in carry-on bags, due to TSA officers' inability to accurately determine the amount of liquid they contain.

Food items, such as pies and cakes are permitted, but may need inspection. Passengers unsure if a food item is considered a liquid or gel, should place it in a checked bag, or ship it to its destination before their flight.

"TSA has implemented risk-based procedures to further strengthen security while improving the passenger experience, whenever possible," added TSA Administrator John Pistole. "We are prepared this holiday season to keep passengers safe as they travel to see their loved ones."

Hartsfield-Jackson's Miller assures passengers that the airport will have extra staff to handle the large amount of travelers coming through, during the week-long period. For more information about Hartsfield-Jackson, visit www.atlanta-airport.com.