Dealing with Thanksgiving airport security
A lot's changed since last Thanksgiving in airport travel. So if you're flying to or from Washington, you might want to carve out some extra time to get to your destination.
Since November 2009, a new underground airport train system -- AeroTran -- was opened at Dulles International Airport; thousands of new parking spaces were installed at both Dulles and Reagan National Airport; and new federal security measures are in place at checkpoints at all airports nationwide.
The advice from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees Dulles and Reagan National: "Our best advice is to plan ahead and arrive early during peak times," said Lynn Hampton, president and chief executive of the airports authority.
The Thanksgiving holiday rush will start on Friday, Nov. 19 and continue through Monday, Nov. 30. Peak travel times are typically during the early morning -- 5:30 to 8 a.m. -- and late afternoon from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
There could also be a mid-day peak from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Travelers are advised to arrive at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight, especially during these peak times.
Some of the noticeable changes after the jump:
-- At Reagan National, Northwest Airlines, following its merger with Delta, moved from Terminal A to Delta's location in Terminal B. Frontier and Air Canada both moved to Terminal A. JetBlue, which began service at Reagan National for the first time earlier this month, began service in Terminal A.
-- More than 1,400 additional parking spaces were added to both daily parking garages at Reagan National, bringing the airport's total to nearly 9,000 parking spaces.
-- The AeroTrain underground airport train system began serving passengers in January, providing express transit between the Main Terminal and the A, B and C gates with less than two minutes of travel time between stations. Passengers using the D gates and arriving international passengers continue to use mobile lounge shuttles.
-- At Dulles, arriving international passengers who are not connecting to other flights will clear U.S. Customs in the International Arrivals Building, which is being expanded. New baggage claim devices opened in the building earlier this month.
-- Indoor "pet relief areas" opened at two post-security locations near Gate A-31 and across from Gate D-1 at Dulles, "offering convenient locations for passengers traveling with service animals or pets to take their animals for a break."
-- The Transportation Security Administration launched its Secure Flight program, which requires airlines to collect a passenger's full name as it appears on government-issued ID, date of birth and gender.
-- New full-body scanning X-ray machines were installed at Dulles. They are already in use at Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington Marshall International Airport, along with enhanced "pat-down" searches.
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