An estimated 1.5 million people will travel through Houston's airports over a ten-day period for Thanksgiving. The Houston Airport System's Mark Mancuso says the numbers are higher than normal this year because of the compressed holiday schedule.
"The independent school districts have altered their holidays themselves, but we're anticipating huge numbers of people, somewhere probably in the order of 120,000 a day today and tomorrow at Bush Intercontinental. Added together between the two airports, probably as many as 150,000."
The busiest days are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. And the crowds, by definition, mean longer lines and more slow-downs at ticketing and security checkpoints. Jim Marchand is the TSA's Federal Security Director at Hobby Airport. He says they've added extra personnel, but they need help from the passengers too.
"We have a theme this year called SimpliFly. That theme is basically saying pack your stuff in layers, roll your cords up and whatnot, so when we look at it through the X-ray or we look at it through the explosive detection system your bag will go through because we can see what's in it. If you just throw a bunch of things in your suitcase at the last minute, it may very well cause us to either have to open the bag or send it back through again."
And Marchand says a lot of travelers forget that the terrorist threat for aviation is still at orange.
"With that in mind, we always have to be prepared. The situation is you know you're not the enemy. The problem is we don't know who the enemy is as they're coming through. So if you prepare yourself and you pack accordingly, it's going to make things a lot easier for you."
Packing is one of the keys -- remember that all liquids have to be in your checked bag unless you have them in 3 oz. bottles, sealed inside a one-quart ziploc bag. And airport officials say the Thanksgiving rush is not the time to try to squeak into the airport just before you flight departs. For complete TSA flight rules visit their website. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.