November 12, 2019

Airport Tips for Holiday Travel

Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest travel seasons of the year.  For Thanksgiving, expect the busiest days to be Nov. 27 when there are 3,289 scheduled seats, and Dec. 1 when there are 3,237 scheduled seats. The busiest times at the security checkpoint are between 4:00 – 6:00 am when there are 8 departures, between 9:00 – 12:00 pm when there are 10 departures, 3:30 – 5:30 pm when there are 12 departures. 

The busiest days for Christmas travel are expected to be Dec. 20 with 3,304 scheduled seats, Dec. 27 and 30 with 3,118 scheduled seats each.

Load factors have run high this year.  Expect full flights, little overhead bin space, long lines at the security checkpoint, especially at large hub airports.

If you have not already booked your flights, don’t hesitate to do so. 

Tips from the Airport

  • Parking at the curb in front of the terminal building, other than for immediate pick up or drop-off, is not permitted and strictly enforced.
  • If you are picking up an arriving guest, park free in the Cell Phone Lot until your guest tells you they are ready for pick up. Meeting arriving guests or seeing them off? Take advantage of 60 minutes of FREE parking in the Short-Term Automated Lot.
  • Track the location of the Park & Ride lot shuttle on your phone by downloading the Ride System App and choose Eisenhower National Airport.  The app tracks the availability of the shuttle service to/from our Park & Ride lot.  This will help to ensure you have adequate time to arrive at the airport and ride the shuttle from the Park & Ride lot to the airport terminal.  You may also click here to see the live map for the shuttles.
  • ADA accessible parking stalls are located in all surface lots, and on levels 2-4 of the parking garage nearest the stairwells/elevators
  • If you need assistance in any of the parking areas, or if you need your windshield scraped, a flat tire inflated, call our ABM Parking at 316-946-4772.
  • Sign up for ICT Rewards and start earning free parking at the airport.  Earn one point for every $1.00 spent on parking at the airport. For signing up, you’ll receive 250 bonus points, enough for 1 day of free parking in the Garage or Economy Lot.  Sign up here.
  • See our parking page for more information.
  • Unpack before packing to make sure you have no prohibited items in your carry-on or checked bags.
  • Need help? Ask a Courtesy Crew rep in the red jacket, or the Information Desk volunteer.
  • If traveling with kids, take them to the Tanganyika-themed kids play area across from gate 1.
  • If your bags did not come home with you, go to the Baggage Service Office located in Bag Claim if you traveled on American, Delta, or United. Go to the ticket counter for all other airlines.

Tips from the Airlines

  • Arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight to have plenty of time to park, check-in, and get through security.
  • Put something on your bag that makes it uniquely yours.  You’d be surprised how many bag swaps there are! 
  • Book early and show up on time.
  • If you book basic economy, check your airline policies to know what you can carry on board and what fees will be charged. Each airline is different.
  • Be aware of booking a short connection.  You need to allow enough time to get your connecting gate if your flight arrives late at the hub. If you have a short connection, it’s best that you do not gate-check your bag.
  • Check in for your flight up to 24 hours before departure to pay your bag fees and get your seat assignment. If you are not checking a bag, you can go directly to the gate as long as you have your boarding pass.
  • Mobile or printed boarding passes are accepted here.
  • Each airline has different weight and size requirements for baggage.  Visit the airline’s websites so you won’t have any surprises when you arrive at the airport.
  • Download your airline’s app to stay updated on gates and schedule changes.
  • Do NOT pack medications you will need in your checked bags.
  • Do NOT pack your laptop or cell phone charger in your checked bags.
  • Do NOT wrap gifts
  • Do NOT pack breakables in your luggage unless they are well padded. 
  • Rules have changed for flying with emotional support animals. This article takes a look at therapy pet rules, but it is recommended that you research the airline you are traveling on before coming to the airport.

Tips from the Transportation Security Administration

  • TSA opens the checkpoint at 3:30 am.  It closes after the last departure, based on the flight schedule. 
  • Peak times at the checkpoint:
    • 4:30 am – 6:00 am –  8 departures
    • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm – 10 departures
    • 3:30 – 5:30 pm – 12 departures
  • Sign up for TSA Precheck.  The TSA PreCheck™ office is located at New Leaf Plaza, 2021 N. Amidon, Suite 130.

If you are not a pre-check passenger:

  • Shoes need to be divested directly onto the x-ray conveyor belt or in a bin with nothing inside the shoes or anything on or below the shoes.
  • Outer coats, jackets, as well as anything that might cause an alarm, including bulky sweatshirts and hoodies as long as the passenger is comfortable removing and he or she is wearing something underneath. Belts need to be removed because they might cause an alarm.
  • Hats and scarves need to be removed because they might cause alarm.
  • Everything must be removed from the passenger’s pockets.
  • If you’re bringing food items through screening, such as candy, nuts, snacks, etc., speed up the screening process by removing those items from your carryon and placing them in the bin.
  • Electronics that are bigger than your cell phone including CPAP, BPAP.
  • Liquids, gels, aerosols, toiletries, shampoos, pastes, creams, lotions, perfumes, etc.  Liquids must be 3.4 oz. or less and all fit into one, 1-quart zip-top bag.
  • Medications in liquid form or pill form and vitamins.
  • Belts and light jackets
  • Dress for easy screening – slip-on shoes, no belts, no metal, no bling.
  • Baby Bags: Baby Wipes, formula, breast milk, diapers

TSA Pre-Check Passengers do not need to remove:

  • Shoes (unless they set off the metal detector)
  • Laptops
  • 3-1-1 liquids
  • Belts
  • Light jackets

More TSA Information:

Media Contacts

Valerie Wise

Air Service & Business Development Manager

(316) 946-4780

Brad Christopher

Assistant Director of Airports

(316) 946-4700

Victor White

Director of Airports

(316) 946-4700

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