ATLANTA - It's time for the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport has been packed, and it’s going to get even busier. Airport officials expect close to 3-million people to pass through the airport this Thanksgiving holiday.
TSA is trying to make it easier on everyone. The agency opened checkpoints earlier than usual and added a third automated security lane at the south security checkpoint.
If you're flying, you'll also notice music in the atrium to ease the pain. Wednesday evening the Apostles of Bluegrass were playing.
"If we can bring a little happiness to the people here, we've done our job," said musician Dave Ross.
Carrying balloons and a sign, Falana Thomas was waiting for her sister to arrive.
"It's the worst day to travel, it took an hour to get here, and getting the balloons was tough, but I guess it's worth it, she'll cry," said Thomas.
Tucked away on an upper level of the airport, military men and women were being greeted by the USO.
"We just want to show our appreciation," said volunteer Pat Solomon. Her husband, Jack, was in the military for 15 years. They both have been volunteering with the USO since 2003.
"These men and women represent what I think is the grassroots, the bases of our nation," said Jack Solomon.
Stephen Scott is in the Army Reserves. He just flew in from Dallas and is heading to see his dad in Alabama. "It is great to get home, I'm glad I'll be seeing my father and my brothers and sister," said Scott.
Myron Meyer was heading to Fort Benning. He had been in the Marine Corps for ten years and is now starting the next chapter of his life in the Army. He'll be away from his family for Thanksgiving.
"It definitely is hard, but the camaraderie in the branches is what makes you have a home away from home," said Meyer.
The USO will serve Thanksgiving dinner to all military men and women who will be passing to the airport Thursday morning. It's something they've done since 1964.
There will be one million more travelers this Thanksgiving compared to last year, according to AAA.
The AAA forecast predicts that from Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 27, about 43.5 million Americans will take long car trips, 1.9 percent more than last year. AAA expects 3.7 million will travel by air, a 1.6 percent increase. Bus and train trips will grow less than 1 percent, the auto group said.
AIR TRAVEL TIPS
Planes are likely to be packed over the holiday, and bad weather or airline computer malfunctions can slow things to a crawl. If the unexpected happens, be ready to react quickly.
—Arrive early. At some airports, including Dallas-Fort Worth International and Dallas Love Field, garages and other facilities are under construction, making matters worse.
—Pack smart. Don't put anything you really need — medicine, passport, other important papers — in your rollaboard bag; or remember to remove it if the airline orders you to gate-check your bag, which happens when flights are full and bins are overstuffed.
—Customer assistance. If your flight is canceled, get in line to talk to an airline customer rep but call the airline too. You might have better luck reaching an overseas number — look up the numbers before your trip.