It's the annual flight of the turkeys. Translation: Holiday travel season officially takes off this weekend. Although AAA has predicted about a half-million fewer travelers, there will still be some 40 million folks rushing to Grandma's house. About 80 percent of them will stay on the ground. The rest will mount an air assault. The three busiest air travel days for Thanksgiving will likely be Nov. 23, 26 and 30. Airports say they are ready. But are you? Here are some holiday air travel tips:
1. Arrive on time. It's a must. Plan on everything taking longer than usual. It helps if you can check in online at home before heading out. You can also use the self-service kiosks at the airport to avoid standing in line.
2. Pack smart. Don't bring liquid stuff, like your famous turkey basting sauce, that you know you can't take onto the plane. It just slows down everybody else. If you're traveling with kids, tell them in advance that they'll have to give up that stuffed animal or blanket just long enough for the nice TSA agent to scan it.
3. Know your bags. Some airlines have changed the sizes allowed for carry-ons. Make sure you check before you arrive at the airport. Also, be aware of your airline's rules about how heavy your bag can be. Weigh it before you leave home. No one wants to watch while you unpack 10 pounds of side dishes.
4. Be patient and be quiet. Yes, the people in front of you are taking too long. Yes, the shoe thing is irritating. But, no joking around because everyone at TSA will be super serious. So just keep your thoughts to yourself. Or even better, think about pie.
5. Speaking of pie, TSA warns that some foods such as cakes and pies may be subject to additional security screening. (And taste testing.) Foods such as gravy, cranberry sauce, dips and soups should go in checked luggage.
More tips from TSA can be found here.
(Photo: Rockettes entertain a young traveler last November at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. By Associated Press)