The busy holiday travel season is expected to be even more hectic this Thanksgiving.
Nationally, the airline industry is predicting 24 million people will fly over the 12-day holiday period, a 3.5 percent bump from last year. At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), the numbers are up even more: 5 to 7 percent over last year.
"People are a little more comfortable with the economy or they're just deciding it's time to travel again," said MSP spokesman Pat Hogan.
His advice: "Arrive early and leave plenty of time. A lot of people who haven't traveled much will be flying, so the lines tend to move slower."
New security procedures at MSP also might slow passengers, he said. Since September, passengers have been asked at random to go through new high-tech body scanners at several checkpoints. For those scanners, "people have to take everything out of their pockets, not just metal objects, and it takes slightly longer to be screened" than it does to walk through the traditional metal detector, Hogan said. (People who decline to go through the new scanners are patted down.)
Across the country, airlines are asking passengers to be savvy about checking their flight status early and to review rules for what can and can't be carried on the plane. (You can do so at www.tsa.gov/travelers).
The busiest days are expected to be the Friday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday and Monday afterward. The slowest? Thanksgiving Day itself.