For Immediate Release

Release No. ASW 26-00
November 20, 2000
Contact: Roland Herwig
Phone: (202) 267-3462

WASHINGTON – With U.S. airlines predicting record-setting numbers of passengers during this year's Thanksgiving holiday travel season, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued some suggestions for travelers to help make sure they arrive at their destinations as quickly and safely as possible.

  • Before leaving home, contact the airline to make sure your flight is on time. For real-time information on the operating status of the nation's largest airports, check the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center web site at
  • Arrive at the airport at least one hour early for domestic flights and two hours early for international flights. Holiday crowds coupled with current security may increase the time you need to check in. Build even more time into your schedule if you need help with infants, young children, elderly or disabled passengers, or passengers with medical conditions.
  • Parking lots may be full, so consider using public transportation or having a friend drop you off. If you are driving, add extra time to your schedule.
  • Don't leave your car unattended in front of the terminal and be sure to observe all parking restrictions. Because of current security, local parking rules are being strictly enforced.
  • Keep your photo identification handy. Some airlines require you to have proper identification to fly. If you do not have a photo identification card, make sure you have two pieces of identification, one of which should be issued by a government authority. Minors are not required to have identification.
  • Keep your eyes open for unattended packages and bags, and report them to authorities. Watch your bags and don't accept packages from strangers.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about who packed your bags and whether you might have left them unattended at any time. Think carefully and answer honestly. History has shown that criminals and terrorists use unwitting passengers to carry bombs or other dangerous items on board aircraft, either by tricking passengers into carrying packages or by simply slipping items into unwatched bags. Admitting you have concerns about your bags will only lead to a little extra security applied to the bags.
  • Do not joke about having a bomb or firearm in your possession. Security personnel are trained to react when they hear these words. Penalties can be severe, and can include time in prison and fines.
  • Don't pack unprocessed film in bags you plan to check. New explosives detection systems used to screen checked baggage might damage your film. Instead, pack your film in a carry-on bag or bring it with you on board the plane. X-ray equipment used at the security checkpoints to screen carry-on bags will not damage film below 1000ASA.
  • Both carry-on and checked bags are subject to being hand-searched, so it's a good idea to leave gifts unwrapped until after you arrive at your destination. If airline security personnel cannot determine by X-ray the contents of a package, they can and will open it, or ask you to open it, for inspection.
  • Leave your firearms at home, and do not pack fireworks, flammable materials, household cleaners, or pressurized containers. Remember that violators of hazardous materials regulations are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 per violation and to criminal prosecution that would carry penalties of $250,000 or more and up to five years in prison.

If you would like to find out if there are any special travel advisories in effect, call the Department of Transportation's Travel Advisory Line at 1-800-221-0673.