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Airport Rules Tighten the Holiday Squeeze

Travel: John Wayne officials say new security measures will slow the flow of travelers.


The easy part of traveling by air this Thanksgiving could well be the gravity-defying act of flying itself.

Officials at John Wayne Airport said they expect the number of travelers to be in line with last season, when 96,529 passengers moved through the airport during Thanksgiving week.

But getting to the planes will be decidedly different this year.

Airport officials warn travelers to arrive 2 1/2 hours before their scheduled departure--about the time it takes to fly to Portland, Ore.

Because of the nationwide security crackdown after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, travelers must maneuver through a gantlet of vehicle searches as they enter parking garages, face delays at ticket counters, as more people check more bags, and endure a wait at security-screening posts.

"Some things that could be helpful would be if people just checked everything through [as luggage], except for medications, eyeglasses, keys and maybe books," said Ann McCarley, airport spokeswoman.

She said airlines are limiting passengers to one carry-on bag, plus a personal item, such as a purse, laptop computer or diaper bag.

"But the fewer items people bring through security, the faster the line should go," she said. "So we're just recommending people check as many things as possible."

Parking could pose its own headaches. McCarley said the $7-a-day off-site Main Street parking lot usually fills before the $11-a-day ramps adjacent to the terminal.

Vehicles entering the Main Street lot won't be searched, but those entering the ramps--possible on the upper level only--will be slowed as Orange County sheriff's deputies go through each vehicle. Vehicles dropped off at the $20-per-day valet parking service will be searched also, she said.

Delays getting into the ramps ran about 10 minutes last week, McCarley said. This week, they could last about 20 minutes, she said.

And if you're picking someone up, McCarley said, try to park in one of the ramps rather than cruise around the airport entrance, which will add to traffic backups.

Information on delays will be available at the airport information line, (949) 252-5200, or online at http://

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