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Pleased as Punch at the Passport Agency

As much as I try to be an organized and semi-responsible adult, I always manage to leave everything to the last minute, which is why I found myself being patted down the other day by security at the San Francisco passport agency. This was a visit I’d been dreading, delegating it to the ranks of the DMV and cleaning the litterbox. And with this attitude I let myself get “wanded” by a guy with a handlebar mustache and took a number (23, to be exact) to wait with the hurried masses to renew my passport on the fast track.

A Big Day Ahead

Editor’s Note: Travelocity’s Thanksgiving Task Force is monitoring crowd conditions ahead of the holiday at 10 of the busiest airports in the country: Atlanta-Hartsfield; Chicago O’Hare; Dallas-Fort Worth International; Denver International; Phoenix International; Las Vegas McCarran; Los Angeles International; New York La Guardia; Orlando International; Reagan National. Check back here through Nov. 22 for airport updates from our editors.

It’s a little after 5 a.m. in Texas, and as I prepare for the hectic travel day ahead, I can’t help but think about the sleep I lost last night and the turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes that I’ll stuff myself with tomorrow! But until then, I’ll be fielding calls from our on-site reporters at the nation’s top airports to learn about crowd conditions throughout what is traditionally known as the busiest travel day of the year.

Travelocity’s on-site reporters have already been at the airports for two days, monitoring wait times and surveying travelers about their experiences at the airports. The overall traveler sentiment? So far, so good. Seventy-two percent of travelers are satisfied with their experience getting through security with only 10 percent of travelers reporting that they’re unsatisfied, an indication that the TSA is well staffed and prepared for the busy day ahead.

We expect Thanksgiving crowds to peak today, so travelers should be prepared to wait in longer lines at both security and check-in points. AAA predicts 4.8 million air travelers to take to the skies this holiday season, a 3 percent increase over last year. Check back here throughout the day for updates on crowd conditions.

On a lighter note, our on-site reporters also asked travelers what celebrity couple they would invite over for Thanksgiving dinner. Despite their weekend wedding in Italy, TomKat (not surprisingly) is the most unpopular couple with 10 percent of the vote, while 28 percent of travelers would welcome Jennifer and Vince to their turkey day feast. Other contenders: The Clintons (24 percent); The Bushes (20 percent); and Brangelina (18 percent).

Turkey Day Turbulence at the Nation’s Airports

Editor’s Note: Travelocity’s Thanksgiving Task Force is monitoring crowd conditions ahead of the holiday at 10 of the busiest airports in the country: Atlanta-Hartsfield; Chicago O’Hare; Dallas-Fort Worth International; Denver International; Phoenix International; Las Vegas McCarran; Los Angeles International; New York La Guardia; Orlando International; Reagan National. Check back here through Nov. 22 for airport updates from our editors.

Thanksgiving is nearly here — yum! But before you can eat your turkey feast, you first have to get to your destination. Whoever said “getting there is half the fun” certainly didn’t try to navigate the crowds at the airports during the holidays.

The million dollar question this year: how long will it take to get through security? At least that’s the question I keep getting asked by all the media who know that the latest TSA changes means more headaches for travelers. My prediction for Thanksgiving travel: long lines at security. I’d plan for at least a half an hour, maybe more. With record high load factors this year, you can’t afford to miss your flight for fear of missing your fancy dinner. To make it through the gate and board the plane on time, make sure you arrive at the airport at least two hours in advance for domestic flights (three hours for international), and bring plenty to do in case you end up with extra time on your hands. (Or, check out unique finds at airports across the country!)

But, what is really happening out there right now? I have on-site reporters stationed at 10 of the busiest airports for this Thanksgiving holiday to report back with those very details. After a day of surveying the scene, here’s what they’ve found…

Two to Tango

My memories of cultural dance performances are not fond ones. Taking the stage to a thunderous “A-LOHHH-HA” and demonstrating the hula to hundreds of tourists at the Polynesian Cultural Center was not my idea of a good time when I was 10. Then there was that time at the Greek Easter festival when an elderly man pulled me into a humongous dance circle to solicit a good laugh at my expense. But I digress…

More recently, I met my mother for an indulgent week of eating and shopping in Buenos Aires. I was keen to distinguish us from the tourists who had no doubt shelled out lots of cash to see one of the famous tango shows (you know, the ones with live horses on stage?). Being cheap – I prefer “frugal” – I mused that only tourists go to those shows. Travelers like us sit in bars until 4 a.m., drinking Malbec and smoking cigarettes, even if we’re ardently anti-smoking at home.