Rosanne Coloccia, Preferred Travel Services
Tighter security - it’s everywhere these days, but nowhere is this more apparent than at the airport - particularly during the week of Thanksgiving, the busiest travel time of the year.
While we may be used to most of the rigamarole by now, the folks at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport remind us it’s not just one of the busiest weeks of the year inside the terminals, but on the roads outside the airport, too.
So how can you go over the river and through the woods without losing your cool? Two words - be prepared:
Be the Early Bird!
You’ll do more than catch the worm, you’ll beat the crowds. Typically, the TSA recommends arriving 90 minutes before a domestic departure and two hours prior to an international departure. For this busy time, give yourself at least two hours before a domestic departure and three hours for international. If you happen to breeze through an shorter than anticipated security line, so much the better. Grab a cup of coffee, or delicious meal, at one of the great restaurants in the terminals and relax before your sure to be crowded flight.
Plan Ahead for Parking
Did you know you can pre-book and pre-pay for your on-airport parking? It’s true! Just go to skyharbor.com/prepaidparking and book your space! Another terrific option to avoid on-airport parking altogether? Try the 44th Street PHX Sky Train station. Located on the southwest corner of 44th St. and Washington, it’s easily accessible for pick ups and drop offs. Add in the fact you can print your boarding pass and/or check your bags right from the Sky Train station (Southwest, American, and United Airlines only), and you’ve got a great alternative to long term parking!
3-1-1 Still In Effect
Yep, for our carry on bags we’re still limited to liquids in three ounce (or less) bottles, to fit into one 1-quart bag per person (3-1-1). Anything larger will need to be in your checked baggage. But a relatively new wrinkle is also in effect - liquid medications (prescription only) and “child nutrition” in “reasonable” quantities can be carried in your carry on bags without being a part of those liquids fitting in your 1-quart bag. Juice, formula, and breast milk are considered to be child nutrition, but if you have specific questions about other liquids, you can check the www.tsa.gov website.
Make it easy on yourself! Unless you have TSA Precheck, you’ll need to remove your shoes at the airport. As chic as they are, you’ll have a tough time making a fashion statement when you’re struggling to remove those tall, tight boots, let alone the time it takes on the other side to get them on again. Slip-ons, or shoes with velcro closures, usually work best - and remember to wear fun socks so you don’t have to walk on that cold floor!
Personal opinion, leave your heirloom jewelry at home, but if you must bring your baubles, be prepared to spend a few extra minutes at security. If you wear them through the scanner - which these days you can do - you’ll likely be pulled aside to be wanded. If you pack them in your carry on, you may be asked to open your bag for additional inspection. And “bling” doesn’t just apply to ladies jewelry. Men with fancy belt buckles, or some bola ties, may leave themselves open for additional screening, too.
Pack your patience and get ready to enjoy the kick off of the holiday season! Don’t forget to reconfirm your flight times before you leave for the airport, and just know going in the airport terminals are going to be packed. Prior planning is key and will go a long way toward making your next flight a pleasant one!
For the latest information from Phoenix Sky Harbor International, go to www.phxskyharbor.com. For travel updates from the TSA, check www.tsa.gov. For international travel updates, go to www.state.gov.
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Preferred Travel Services, www.preferredtravelservices.com!
You may remember Rosanne Coloccia as "the travel lady" on KTVK's top-rated Good Morning Arizona, where she brought you travel tips and destination information for more than 14 years. She is delighted to once again be part of the travel industry that she loves, and Preferred Travel Services is more than delighted to have her on our team.