Busy holiday travel day gets under way at Salt Lake airport

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SALT LAKE CITY — Today is one of the busiest travel days of the year. Nationwide millions of people will hit the road and flock to the airports.

We found quite a crowd at Salt Lake International Airport Terminal 1 early this morning, with about a 15 to 20 minute wait to get through security screening. But overall, things were running smoothly.

In the Mountain West region, consisting of Utah and seven other states, an estimated 3.2 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more this week for Thanksgiving. Of those, 2.8 million will be traveling by car, 197,000 by plane, according to AAA.

From TSA
Peak travel times for today:
10 a.m.
1:30 p.m.
4 p.m.
Advice: arrive 2 hours early

It suggests if you are traveling by air, arrive at the airport early and expect longer than average waiting lines at security. If you are traveling by ground, stagger your schedule so you're not leaving during rush hour.

AAA says gas prices have been dropping. In the past week, the average price for a gallon of gas in Utah has dropped from $3.71 to about $3.60. According to AAA, the average family in the Mountain West is expected to drive 607 miles over the next four days.

Ben Baggett is one of those people. He and his family are headed to Arizona for the holiday.

"You always want to get there sooner but something always comes up and you always get out a little bit later," he said.

UDOT advises travelers heading out Wednesday to stagger travel times - leave before or after rush hour traffic. With an 11-hour car ride in front of them, Baggett says they'll spend a lot of time talking, listening to music and watching Christmas movies.

But if they do hit traffic, Baggett says they'll be fine.

"I'm thankful to just be healthy and for my family and a great country," he said. "Life is good."

People we talked to Wednesday morning said they'd rather deal with lines at the airport.

Gas Prices Don't Deter Drivers
By Andrew Adams

SALT LAKE CITY — Lots of Utahns are hitting the road for Thanksgiving despite record high gas prices for the holiday. AAA says a gallon of gasoline in Utah costs about 30 cents more than it did last year at this time. The projected average is $3.63 a gallon.

The good news is prices are down 7 cents in a week and 13 cents from a month ago. Utah's prices are much higher, though, than the national average of $3.43, which is also a record high for the country.

Regardless, people are still driving.

Robert Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA, said, "This is, in terms of a family event, the biggest holiday of the year. While people are still paying attention to what they are spending, carving turkey with family and friends still trumps pinching pennies."

AAA says 2.8 million people in the Mountain West region are expected to drive 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving. That's an increase of about half a percent over last year.

"For the past few years we've gone to California for Thanksgiving," one person told us. "On our way back it was really slow because we drove back."

Another traveler said, "(I'm) just going to roll with the punches. Nothing else you can do, just have patience."

Travelers headed to the Midwest are encouraged to check their flights today. Some flights at O'Hare Airport in Chicago were canceled Wednesday morning due to thick fog.

TSA offered a few reminders for all air travelers:

  • Check your luggage before taking it to the airport. Make sure to remove items that are prohibited and could result in criminal charges and/or make sure they're properly checked with paperwork. You would be surprised how many people have a knife, gun, ammunition or ninja stars in tow.
  • Make sure you have your ticket and ID ready to present to the screening agent.

TSA screeners see particular problems with contact solution, shampoo and other liquids that are more than 3-ounces. Also be aware that wrapped presents are not a good idea if going through screening. If there is a question about a package, it will have to be unwrapped and checked.


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Shara Park and Andrew Adams


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