Thanksgiving Travel Tips

Published: November 16, 2004

Thanksgiving Travel Expected To Be Heavy



Thanksgiving travel this year at Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International Airports may be busier and take more time than in the history of the Airports -- due in part to increased numbers of holiday travelers and to changes in security procedures.

"This year we have seen major increases in both the number of passengers and aircraft operations at our airports. In addition, the Transportation Security Administration has instituted new security screening procedures, which require passengers to remove all outer garments at the checkpoints. There will be long lines in our terminals and crowded parking facilities. We want our customers to be prepared for this busy period, which will probably start the Friday before Thanksgiving and continue until the Monday following the holiday. We advise travelers to come early," said Airports Authority President/CEO James E. Bennett.

The Airports Authority offers these travel tips:

Arrive early -- Travelers are urged to arrive at the airport at least 2 to 2 1/2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international flights to allow enough time for ground transportation, parking, luggage check-in and security screening.

Parking -

Reagan National


Parking lots and garages are expected to fill up the week before and the week of Thanksgiving at Reagan National. Travelers who drive and park should call ahead to check availability of parking. Receive up-to-the-minute parking information by calling 703-417-PARK (7275).

Dulles International

While the Airport offers 25,000 public parking spaces, your favorite spot may be taken. Based on experience over the Columbus Day holiday weekend, a significant increase in parking lot usage is expected. Allow extra time to find a parking space.

PAY & GO is now available at Dulles to avoid lines at the parking exits. Drivers who park at Dulles Airport should take their parking ticket with them and use the Pay & Go Machines as they exit the Terminal building. Pay & Go Machines are located in the lower level of the Terminal near the east and west exit doors. The machines accept $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills and MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover Card and Diners Club credit cards.

Once the ticket is paid at the Pay & Go machine in the Terminal, drivers exit at the Pay & Go lanes with the paid ticket without having to stop at the cashier booth. Free Airport shuttle buses operate between the economy lots to the terminals. For parking information at Dulles, please call 703-572-4500.

Take Metro -- Travelers using National Airport find Metro a good alternative to driving. The Airports Authority also encourages Dulles passengers to consider taking Metro to the West Falls Church Station and connecting to the Washington Flyer Bus to Dulles.

Before You Go to the Ticket Counter--

Make sure the security screeners can open your suitcase
Consider using the airline ticket kiosk if you have an e-ticket
Be sure to have a boarding pass BEFORE you leave the ticketing area.
Place i.d. tags on the inside and outside of your checked baggage.
Have government-issued photo identification for all passengers over age18.

Before You Go to the Security Checkpoint-

Know what items are NOT allowed. Check for a complete list.

Leave gifts unwrapped. They may be opened for inspection.

Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry, and accessories that contain metal and may set off the alarm at screening checkpoints. To speed the process, remove your shoes and use the complimentary bags provided by the Airports for loose items.

Put cameras and undeveloped film in your carry-on baggage. Checked baggage screening equipment will damage some undeveloped film.

Carry-on baggage is limited to one carry-on bag plus one personal item. Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks, briefcases, or camera cases.

Place identification tags inside and outside of all of your baggage. Don't forget your laptop computer; be sure to put an i.d. label on the computer itself and the carrying case.

Call In Before Check-In: Call your airline's 800 number or visit the airline website to confirm your flight or to verify security regulations related to checked baggage. Weather can greatly affect flight schedules. You may also check the Airports Authority website at mwaa home for airport information.

Travel wisely-- Carry medicine, cash, jewelry and other important valuables with you on the plane. If you leave your car at the airport, remove any valuables. Carry your purse and wallet securely, and keep your luggage and carry-on items in your sight at all times. Under security procedures unattended bags and other items will be confiscated and destroyed

Try the Washington Flyer or Super Shuttle Service-- For information about Washington Flyer express bus service from the Metro West Falls Church Station to Dulles Airport, please call 703- 685-1400 or 1-888-WASHFLY. In addition, Super Shuttle provides door-to-door shared-ride service to the airports. Call 1-800-BLUEVAN. For more information on these services, log onto

For more information about Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International Airports, call703- 417-8000 for National and 703-572-2700 for Dulles. The Airports also have a website which is mwaa home.