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Your guide to the Thanksgiving travel rush at Denver International Airport

Posted at 3:49 AM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 13:30:55-05

DENVER — Denver International Airport is expecting record-breaking travel numbers for Thanksgiving week. In total, the airport is expecting 1.2 million passengers to pass through DIA, a 10 percent increase over last year’s holiday travel rush.

When will DIA be the busiest?

According to numbers from the airport, Sunday, Nov. 25 is expected to be the busiest day with about 205,000 passengers on that day alone. Sunday, Nov. 24 is a close second with more than 199,000 passengers, which would be a new record for a Saturday. Insure My Trip said the busiest time to leave DIA is 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

To make the stressful holiday rush less stressful, DIA recently launched a free bag drop service in the Pikes Pike and Mt. Elbert shuttle lots. As soon as passengers pull into the lots, they can pull off to the drop service location to check their bags and receive their boarding passes. Passengers will notice a sign with a list of airlines currently participating in the program, which currently includes domestic flights on American, Delta, Southwest and United. To participate in this service, you must be at the drop location no later than 90 minutes before your flight.

Industry group Airlines for America predicts DIA will be the fifth busiest airport in the country this Thanksgiving travel week. 

Check FlyDenver.com and digital monitors inside the terminal for information on TSA security wait times.

Navigating the construction

An additional holiday travel headache this year is the construction on DIA's Great Hall. Many restaurants are currently closed and it's a little more complicated to navigate the terminal. Travelers can find maps and updated information at FlyDenver.com.

The best way to get from one end of the terminal to the other is to walk along the baggage claim corridor on Level 5. Passengers who attempt to get around the construction on Level 6 will need to go out along the curb.

Here are helpful numbers for those needing to call for help:

303-DIA-PARK (342-7275) – Select “option one” for information on parking availability in DEN lots

303-342-4059 – Information on DEN ground transportation

TEXT 720-370-9002 – General airport questions

303-342-2000 – DEN Customer Services

1-800-AIR-2-DEN – DEN Customer Services for out-of-town travelers

Chat live with a real person online at flydenver.com

Tweet your questions to us @DENairport

A few fun features

For those passengers who arrive extra early or want to stay a little late when the touchdown at DIA, the airport will open its free ice skating rink Friday, Nov. 23. The rink will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Jan. 6. The free rink also offers free ice skate rentals.

Look out for the Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) team. These certified therapy dogs (and one cat) walk the concourse specifically to help relax passengers before takeoff. Feel free to give them a little love.

And while construction may have closed a handful of restaurants, look out for a few new offerings among the more than 140 shops and restaurants. The newest additions include Denver Central Market and Tom’s Urban Kitchen and Tivoli Brewery.

Click here for 7 things to help you get through DIA this holiday season.