Thousands of Minnesotans hit the gas on their holiday travel plans Wednesday, aiming to reach their Christmas destinations before a blizzard could sock them in.

Major airlines issued waivers to flyers in much of the nation, allowing people to accelerate or delay bookings without penalty. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was jammed with people as the first bank of flights departed, creating long lines at security check-ins.

By early afternoon, security lines were flowing freely and there had been few delays or cancellations.

"This feels good. The lines aren't long. This doesn't feel overwhelming," Charlesa Dixon of Minneapolis said after arriving several hours before a flight to Arizona on Sun Country Airlines.

But the evening brought possible complications: The Federal Aviation Administration had the airport under a "ground stop," which slows down incoming flights, for about 60 minutes.

Airport officials had been expecting the busiest travel days before Christmas to be Thursday and Friday. But Tuesday, they saw a jump of 2,000 additional travel bookings for Wednesday as people acted to get ahead of a storm expected to create havoc Thursday and Friday.

"Today might turn out to be the busier day of the holidays because people are trying to get out sooner than later," said Jeff Lea, an airport spokesman.

As snow fell during Dixon's drive to the airport, she said she became worried that her flight would be canceled. "But no delays so far. I did get insurance just in case," she said.

Alex Bohmer and her mother, who live near Alexandria, Minn., had planned to fly to Florida on Tuesday to visit relatives. But slippery roads in central Minnesota delayed their drive to the metro area. They arrived at the airport for a flight Wednesday afternoon instead.

"We weren't able to make our flight because of road conditions yesterday," Bohmer said.

Next Monday, the day after Christmas, is projected to be the busiest day of the holiday weekend, with nearly 36,000 passengers expected to clear security checkpoints at MSP.

Airport officials advise arriving two hours before domestic departures and three hours before international flights. Sun Country told all its passengers to arrive three hours early. Terminal 2, where it operates, has only one of its two security checkpoints open because of staffing shortages.

Airport visitors should expect periods of delay on airport roadways during the holidays. Drivers are encouraged to use the airport's free cellphone lot on Post Road to wait until arriving passengers have retrieved their bags before heading to the terminal pick-up zones.

Pre-booked parkers can save $7 a day on daily parking at Terminal 1 ramps through Jan. 3. The airport's Quick Ride Ramp at Terminal 1 will reopen Jan. 1, offering an additional 1,300 spaces for up to $19 per day when pre-booked online.

The Transportation Security Administration recommends against wrapping gifts until arrival at your destination.