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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…

Crowd conditions on Monday proved to be only slightly busier than normal with many business travelers still en route from extended weekends and families starting to head to their Thanksgiving destinations. Security waits were 15-20 minutes at peak travel times with waits of less than 5-10 minutes in most airports throughout the day.

- Denver International Airport expects 1 million travelers this Thanksgiving season and plans to entertain its visitors with a can’t miss lineup of performers.

- With a load factor of 92 percent anticipated for Wednesday, Reagan National will open its security checkpoints early (4 a.m.) to accommodate the influx of travelers.

- Orlando International Airport participates in Clear® Registered Traveler, a program allowing enrolled travelers to get through airport security lines faster and with less hassle.

More Tips

- Print your boarding pass at home to speed things up at the airport.
- Know the 3-1-1! All liquids and gels must be in containers 3 oz. or less, and those containers must be packed in one clear, 1 quart-size plastic zip top bag.
- Check traffic reports before heading to the airport, and allow for extra time if needed.

amy_ziff

My name: Amy is my name, but I'll answer to Ame, Ames or Aimee.

How I earn my keep: My beat is travel, but my passion is collecting stories from people I meet on the road.

Hotel I could move into: Must I pick only one?! The Palacio Duhau a Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires tops my list. For the stunning restoration of the palace and tasteful new tower that create a thoughtful intersection of old and new. Every public and private space captivates. I'd move for the grand Alvear entry as much as for the manicured garden. For the wine and cheese tastings, the dulce de leche, the art gallery, the flower shop and for all the careful attention to detail that went into creating a hotel that is transcendent. If I were to pick a hotel that most felt like me, it would be The Inn at the Manor in the Cotswolds. Oh, I could definitely live there curled up with a book in a leather chair in the bar or outside among the English wildflowers. If I wanted to live in a land far away, the Ngoro Ngoro Crater Lodge would make a unique home with a view of the crater floor from every room (including the loo!), sumptuous beds, endless roses and the most unusual neighbors - massive water buffalo who won't bother you if you stay close to your Maori guide.

If I won the lottery, I'd live in: A historic farmhouse with an enormous barn and hundreds of acres tucked into a small town in New England or a Malibu beach house with stunning views and the surf just steps away. On second thought, winning the lottery means I could jet from coast to coast and enjoy them both.

Favorite way to get around: By foot. Whether in the city or country, I find the best way to get to know someplace is ambling around to discover and sample the distinct sights, sounds, smells, and tastes a place has to offer.

View that took my breath away: Looking toward the sky in Arusha and watching black and white Colobus monkeys scramble among the treetops, jumping from one tree to the next, floating through the sky like a primate version of Superman. Monkeys know how to have a good time!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: The place I visited last. What can I say? I'm fickle.

Follow me on twitter @amyziff

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