With an estimated 24 million people expected to fly over the Thanksgiving travel period, (up 3.5 percent from a year ago) , and new, tighter TSA screening, travelers can expect longer lines and delays at airports this upcoming holiday weekend, according to the travel experts at GO Airport Express, the door-to-door shuttle company that serves O’Hare and Midway.
O’Hare has already replaced many metal scanners with the full body electronic scanners, while Midway’s will not be in place by Thanksgiving. The body scanners may take longer because passengers are required to remove all items from pockets (not just metal); an image is taken and a person in another location then views the image before clearing the passenger. Passengers who opt out of the scanners will be required to undergo a pat down, which will cause added delays.
While the general rule is to arrive 90 minutes prior to take off for domestic flights and two hours for international, travelers may want to leave earlier next week. Following are some travel tips from GO Airport Express to make the process of navigating your way onto a plane this holiday season a little easier.
- Know beforehand what you can carry on and what must be checked or left at home. Even the TSA’s menu of holiday foods that are approved for carry-on travel has changed. Cakes and pies are OK to carry on flights; gravy, cheese dips and other dense edibles that detection devices might flag are banned as carry-ons. All gifts must be unwrapped. For a complete list of prohibited items, visit the TSA web site.
- You will be required to remove items such as oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, etc.) from your carry-on bag and submit them separately for x-ray screening. However, TSA now allows for certain “checkpoint friendly” laptops to be carried on. In general, these bags need to have a designated laptop-only section that lies flat on the X-ray belt and have nothing in this section other than the laptop itself. A quick online search will help you find which bags are approved.
- Coats, jackets and shoes will all need to be removed. Prepare your one, quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag of liquids and have this readily accessible before arriving at the airport. The bag must be removed and placed in the provided tote for processing.
- Children must be removed from strollers and pets from carriers for separate screening. However, TSA is not allowed to separate parents or guardians from their children during the process.
- Rather than drive, consider a door-to-door shared ride service, which will pick you up at home or office, and deliver you to O’Hare or Midway without the need to park at the airport.
The key to stress-free travel this holiday season is to plan ahead; be prepared; know the rules and allow for plenty of time traveling to the airport and through security.
This Thanksgiving, GO Airport Express is offering 10 percent off for one-way or round trip transportation to either airport. Travelers can relax in roomy vehicles with plenty of space for luggage, gifts and gear without worrying about driving through Chicago’s busy streets and highways; finding spaces in crowded lots or paying expensive parking fees.
Founded in 1853 as the Parmelee Transportation Company, GO Airport Express currently transports more than one million passengers annually to and from Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports. Its door-to-door services are offered to and from downtown Chicago, as well as most Chicago neighborhoods and its surrounding suburbs. It is also a founding member for GO Group, LLC., offering transportation in airports worldwide. For more information or to book transportation online visit www.airportexpress.com.