Holiday travel will start in earnest Wednesday, as the D.C. region is expected to see a slight increase in travelers compared to this time last year.
Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday are expected to be the busiest days at Reagan National and Dulles International Airports. But according to AAA Mid-Atlantic, nearly all of the more than 2.2 million D.C.-region residents expected to travel will do so by car. Spokeswoman Kristin Nevels says the more extensive security searches at airports this year have something to do with that.
"Just so they don't have to deal with the hassle at the airport. Especially people traveling with families and children and gifts. It just adds to the hustle and bustle of being at the airport when you have to take time out to do the search," Nevels says.
Tara Hamilton, the spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which runs Reagan National and Dulles, says it won't just be the higher number of travelers swelling security lines. Many will be wearing coats because of the weather, and others will have things such as strollers for their children.
"All of that you have to put that up on the conveyor belt that goes through security systems," Hamilton says. "People who travel frequently are of course used to this. But if you haven't traveled since this time last year...it's a good reminder that you need some extra time to get yourself through."
She says those traveling on a domestic flight should get to the airport an hour and a half early, while international travelers should arrive two hours beforehand.