Nov 18, 2022 - News

What Thanksgiving travel will look like at DIA

Travelers make their way through TSA security at Denver International Airport the day before Thanksgiving in November 2021. Photo: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

If you haven't traveled in a while, Denver International Airport might look and feel a little different.

Driving the news: The final phase of the airport's Great Hall Project got underway this week, meaning portions of the terminal will be blocked off temporarily. Coupled with an anticipated spike in travelers for Thanksgiving, it could cause some chaos and frustration.

  • The interior corridor on the airport's east side, most restrooms on the north side of level 6, and the first two lanes of traffic including sidewalks from doors 601 to 603 will be closed, according to a release from the airport.

Yes, but: All security checkpoints will remain operational during construction, and the airport encourages travelers to check live TSA wait times online to plan ahead.

  • "We anticipate 2019-level numbers or greater than that," DIA spokesperson Alex Renteria told the Denver Post.
  • Travelers should expect security screenings to be more efficient and better-staffed this year compared to last.

Zoom in: 951,000 Coloradans are expected to travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving this year, according to AAA.

  • That figure amounts to a 2.8% jump from 2021, but still about 7,000 fewer people than the statewide record set in 2019.
  • Nationwide, AAA predicts 54.6 million people nationwide will travel this Thanksgiving — mostly by car. The overall number is a 1.5% jump compared to last year.

Be smart: Here are a few tips to make life easier during the busy holiday travel season:

  • Check your flight status to make sure you don't miss a delay or cancellation.
  • Arrive two full hours before boarding time.
  • Take the RTD's A-Line, especially if icy road conditions exist.
  • Use the A-Bridge Security Checkpoint, which opens at 4:30am and can be used for standard screening (TSA PreCheck isn't available here).
  • Avoid TSA screen checkpoints between 5 and 10am and from 1 to 4pm, which are often the busiest times.

Of note: An ice rink opens Friday at DIA for the first time since being closed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The rink will be set up on the outdoor plaza near ticketing booths.

What to watch: DIA on Thursday could not provide an estimate of the number of travelers expected this holiday season, though a spokesperson tells Axios Denver the figures are expected Friday.

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