No, it’s not too early to start preparing for holiday travel

Problem Solvers

Travelers wear face masks while passing through the south security checkpoint in the main terminal of Denver International Airport Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (KDVR) — It’s not too early to start preparing for holiday travel, as passenger numbers have nearly rebounded — even as pandemic restrictions and uncertainties are still around.

Labor Day travel looked drastically different in Denver than this time last year. Denver International Airport said that from Sept. 2-7, airlines were prepared to accommodate 1.1 million passengers traveling through Denver.

That’s more than double the approximately 525,000 total passengers during the same time last year.

DIA said the busiest day was forecasted to be Monday, Sept. 6, when more than 211,000 passengers were estimated to travel through the airport. In addition, that Thursday and Friday, Sept. 2-3, were also expected to see more than 200,000 passengers each day.

Airport officials say that in 2019, nearly 1.2 million passengers traveled through DIA during the same timeframe, which is 5% higher than this year’s forecast for the holiday period.

‘Flexibility is the name of the game’

Now as travelers look toward Thanksgiving and end-of-year holiday travel, early preparation will be the key to a smooth travel experience.

Travel experts tell the Problem Solvers that right now, there are up to 18-week delays in passport processing for some international travelers.

AAA of Colorado spokesperson Skyler McKinley told the Problem Solver: “Flexibility is the name of the game.”

Book your trip early to get the best fares and closely check the cancellation policies. If you buy trip insurance, make sure to read the fine print and ask about coverage for costs associated with COVID-related cancellations.

Passport renewals and applications should not be left to just weeks before your departure date.

“If you need a renewal or new passport, you’ve got to get that in now if you’re traveling at the year-end,” McKinley said.

One traveler told the Problem Solvers it took 12 weeks to have her passport expedited.

Understand public health guidelines

Understand public health guidelines before heading to the airport.

“Those guidances are clear: get vaccinated. If you’re immunocompromised, you should delay travel,” McKinley said.

DIA requires masks to be worn indoors. The airlines have strict policies as well. Consider mask requirements at your destination and have your family prepared.

“Mask mandates can vary county to county, state to state, nation to nation. … They might ask you for certain vaccination requirements and they’re, under the law, able to do that,” McKinley said.

Airport policy updates are posted online.

Currently, shuttle parking lots, including Pikes Peak and Mt. Elbert; valet parking in the East and West garages; and the bag check near the Pikes Peak lot are all closed until further notice.

DIA announced that the free bag drop service at the transit center has reopened. Volunteers are back at their posts, including CATS, the Canine Airport Therapy Squad.

Visit flydenver.com for important safety, security and packing guidelines.

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