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Holiday travel tips: Peak LAX flight days start this weekend

December 17, 2010|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

Flying out of LAX this weekend? Expect plenty of company. The airport estimates that  2.9 million travelers – 1.3% more than last year -- will pass through its gates during the holiday period that started Friday and ends Jan. 2, officials said in a news release.

There’s a lot you can't control, such as the length of lines at reservation desks and security checkpoints and weather-related delays. But you can take steps to make the going easier. Here are some tips from the airport (and a few from me) for LAX travelers:

Arrive early: The busiest days are expected to be Saturday, Sunday, Dec. 24 and Jan. 2, officials said, when airlines say flights can run 95% full to completely full. LAX suggests arriving two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights during these peak travel times: 6 to 9 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m.

Plan ahead: Check in online and make sure you know which terminal you’re flying from; some airlines have changed terminals recently. Click here for maps of LAX. Check for flight delays or weather conditions on the airline's website. LAX’s Facebook page and Twitter are good ways to stay informed.

If you haven’t flown in a while, review procedures at security checkpoints, which have changed in the last few months. Full-body scanners have been added to usual take-off-your-shoes metal detector screening at some checkpoints.

Review the rules: Make sure that you aren't bringing anything in your carry-on that will hold up the security line. Here’s a list of items prohibited by the Transportation Security Administration. The agency also has a list of goodies and gifts that should be put in checked luggage, shipped ahead of time or left home. These items include gravy, food baskets, maple syrup, salsa, wine, cranberry sauce and, of course, snowglobes. View the full list here.

No gifties, please: Don’t even think about bringing wrapped gifts; they'll be unwrapped at security checkpoints.

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