RDU expects major uptick in air travel, experts urge people to plan ahead

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Both TSA and RDU expected Thursday to be one of the busiest travel days of the holiday stretch, though lines were few and far between inside Terminal 2.

"It's better than I expected. I expected it to be crowded. So it's pretty good so far," said Maxine Huggins.

"Less, less. I used to fly through here, it (was) much more busy," added Chris Sagbohan, a fellow traveler.

"It's been smooth sailing. There was a little security line at Orlando, but that's about it," said Nolan Ankner.

While parking decks and lots filled up throughout the day - the Premier Lot hitting capacity by mid-afternoon outside pre-bookings--inside, bag drop-offs, check-ins, and TSA security wait times were short for much of the day as the bulk of flights left on time.

"Between the period of December 18th and January 2nd, we're expecting over 494,000 travelers to come through RDU. Today, Thursday, is going to be about the busiest--about 37,000. And to put things into perspective, that 494,000 number is more than we saw for the entire month of December in 2020," said Kiara Jones, RDU's Director of Strategic Communications.

Airport officials are encouraging people to plan ahead by booking a parking spot online.

"We also have 30 minutes of free parking available (in decks) for those who are picking up. And also, if you go in and check RDU.com, you're able to see that capacity," said Jones, though she said people should utilize the cell phone lot if waiting to pick up passengers.

To avoid a frantic rush to the gate, you should arrive at least two hours before domestic flights, and three hours before international flights. As safety regulations are often changing, you should confirm protocols and necessary paperwork if traveling outside the country.

Both the Huggins and Ankner families have Disney on their itineraries.

"Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse. It's our first time, my first time, my husband's first time, our children's first time. And it's Christmas time. That's what makes it even more special," said Huggins.

"It was awesome. There's a lot of fun stuff there," Ankner added.

TSA anticipates January 3rd to be the other busiest holiday day in this stretch when many people will be returning from their trips.
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