Holiday air travelers coming home today — here’s what to expect


Today is, by some estimates, the busiest air travel day of the year. Here’s what to expect if you’re flying.

No significant delays have been reported yet, although there are a few potential challenges that you should know about.

No major air traffic delays. Both Flightstats and the FAA site show no significant delays as of 6:15 a.m. But the weather forecast calls for locally heavy snow and episodes of wind across the West and Rockies through Monday, which could delay some flights. If you’re flying today, call your airline to double-check your departure time.

Screening times normal. There are no reports of excessive wait times at airports. However, the TSA’s wait time calculator is currently “under construction.” TSA reported Wednesday’s wait times on its blog, but it’s unclear if it will do so today. There are numerous reports that the full-body scanners have been turned off again in order to make screenings move faster, as they were last week.

Reader Carl Stork reports, “My wife and daughter passed through security at Seatac approx 6:20 a.m, PST. AIT scanners were not in use, just metal detectors.”

No protests expected. Did National Opt-Out Day drain the American traveling public’s will to protest the indignities of being scanned or patted down? Maybe. There are no major protest actions planned for today. But there’s still plenty of dissent. Here are some of the highlights from Wednesday: The Bikini Traveler in LA, Underwear Guy In New York, Furrygirl in Seattle, and Speedo Guy in Salt Lake City. In the last few days, the TSA criticism has been largely rhetorical, with newspapers, radio personalities and bloggers like me beating the dead horse to a pulp. Will TSA try to spin this apparent lack of resolve into a victory? We’ll see.

Are you traveling today? I’ll be here all day.

Update (3 p.m.): It’s smooth sailing so far for air traffic. In terms of screening, I’ve received several reports from airports around the country today. I’ve also been reminded that reporting the actual locations of the turned-off scanners could endanger the security of air travelers, and even though I disagree, I am redacting the locations — just in case I’m wrong.

Reader Jim McDonough, flying out of a Southern California airport, reports a 20-minute wait.

TSA were bored and had nothing to do. My carry-on was emptied, swabbed, re-scanned a couple of times and very thoroughly examined. My offense was not removing my iPad from the carry-on. What can I say. I saw the nude-o-scopes but they were not used on us.

Stacie Abney, flying out of an airport in Utah, reports,

I was randomly selected for the millimeter wave thing. I went through it and while I was waiting to be ‘cleared’ they sent someone three behind me through and then someone two behind that person.

No one protested it and we got through pretty fast. I got my backside patted down after leaving some cash in my pocket. She said what she was going to do before hand.

Also it’s snowing here three inches at least and still coming. No major delays I can see.

At a Chicago airport, reader Tab Stone reports a 10-minute wait and everything running smoothly.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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