DIA gears up for the busiest day for holiday travelers

DENVER -- The Denver International Airport is in for a very busy holiday weekend with travelers trying to make it home for the holidays. Friday is expected to be the busiest day to travel, with about 189,000 people flying in and out of the airport.

“It’s not quite as busy as the record-setting summer time that we saw but certainly very busy and a record Christmas traveling day for us,” said DIA spokesman Heath Montgomery.

Some airlines even sent out emails to passengers asking them to arrive three hours early to make sure they get on their flights.

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Part of the need for extra time has to do with the sheer volume of people coming through the airport but the other part has to do with who is traveling.

“It’s a different crowd that’s traveling. There’s a lot of families that are traveling for the holidays, a lot more packages coming through, a lot more checked bags coming through, so it’s a little bit different feel for the holidays,” Montgomery said.

DIA is the sixth busiest airport in the country and Friday is set to be the 53rd busiest travel day DIA has ever experienced.

Passengers Denver7 spoke with say they took the advice from their airlines and arrived early.

“I’ve flown on the holidays before and so I know when enough not to tempt fate,” said Michael Stephen.

He’s heading to Costa Rica for the holidays and said he chose to Uber to the airport rather than trying to find a parking spot. He also checked in to his flight before arriving at the airport.

“I already have my boarding pass so I just go through security and make it a little easier,” Stephen said.

He made it through security in about 15 minutes and to his gate eight minutes after that.

Kayt Newton and her son weren’t as lucky, however. Newton’s son was traveling to New Jersey alone to visit family and they experienced a setback at the check-in counter when she realized her son’s ticket wasn’t marked for an unaccompanied minor.

“We’ll see what security looks like. This is just the first step,” Newton said.

Meanwhile, Brock Hoover and Lara Thomas didn’t check in to their flights beforehand and stood in line at the United check-in for about 10 minutes before they got their tickets.

“It was really efficient. I feel like I’m always confused. I didn’t know what my airport code was but there were people there and they had it all memorized and so it was actually really efficient for me,” Thomas said.

The pair made it through security in about 20 minutes and saved a little time when they were picked by Transportation Security Agency personnel to skip past the X-ray scanner and go through the metal detector.

Both Thomas and Hoover say they are eager to get to their families.

“I don’t see my family very often because I moved away from Pennsylvania seven years ago now so it’s just good to see them,” Hoover said.

DIA is expecting about 1.19 million passengers to pass through Denver between December 19 and 25. It’s expecting another 1.24 million to travel through Denver from December 26 to January 1.

In order to help things move smoothly, the airport brought in additional staffing. The added workers will be performing non-security tasks like directing passengers where to go and moving bins. They were all trained by the TSA and passed an airport background check before being allowed to work.

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