November 14, 2012
To grandmother's house we go: Airports, passengers prepare for holiday travel
As some Americans plan to travel over the river and the through the woods this Thanksgiving, millions more will travel above the roads in the jet streams -- and airports across the country are preparing for them.
"Industry reports estimate that close to 24 million people will fly during the Thanksgiving holiday," said Tim Rogers, adjunct instructor of airport management at Kansas Sate University Salina and executive director of the Salina Regional Airport. "In addition to the increase in airline travelers, airports see more business and private jet traffic. Like many other people, they are traveling for the holiday."
K-State Salina offers an airport management option through its bachelor's degree program in aviation. This option prepares students for careers in airport management and includes study of airport environmental regulations, airport law and aviation/airport funding structures. Students in the program sit for the Certified Member designation exam from the American Association of Airport Executives.
According to Rogers, who holds the Accredited Airport Executive designation from the American Association of Airport Executives, one of the biggest steps airports take is to increase staffing in all necessary areas from baggage handlers to law enforcement.
"The Transportation Security Administration increases staff at security checkpoints and airlines also increase their staff," he said.
Airport administrators also review and revise plans in the event flights are canceled.
"All airports have plans to accommodate passengers who are not able to continue on with travel if weather creates problems, as it's a federal requirement," Rogers said. "The larger the airport, the larger its plan. Hub airports' plans are very complex."
Rogers has a few tips for travelers than can make holiday travel easier:
* Arrive early and allow plenty of time for check-in and security.
* Be prepared for delays. Bring your own snacks, pack a good book or two, and download movies to watch.
* Pack light. Bring only carry-on luggage if possible. Follow Travel Security Administration guidelines when packing liquids, medications, food and gifts. Guidelines are online at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information.
* If you or someone in your group has a disability or medical condition that could make security screening difficult, call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 at least 72 hours before traveling.
* Have a luggage tag on everything. Some flights may require passengers to check even their carry-on luggage.
*If traveling with children, accept assistance from the airlines. Some offer early boarding for families with children. Many airports also offer family lanes at security checkpoints. And make sure any strollers or child carriers have a luggage tag.
"We do everything we can from the management side to make holiday travel as easy as possible but it can still be stressful for travelers, especially if there are weather delays. Keep in mind that when a flight is delayed or canceled it is for your safety," Rogers said. "If you are prepared to travel and follow security guidelines, your trip should be as smooth as possible."
More information about K-State Salina's airport management program is available at http://www.salina.k-state.edu/aviation/airportmanagement/about.html.