The airlines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Bush administration are taking steps for smoother traveling.
SOURCE: Federal Aviation Administration/AP
Heading home for the holidays? If you're flying, prepare for packed planes and plenty of hassles – and you might not get there at all if you miss or are bumped from a flight.
That's even though an estimated 2 million fewer people will take to the skies to reach their turkey dinner this Thanksgiving.
You'd think that would free up some space, but it won't. That's because there will also be 10 percent fewer flights than last year.
Still, the hard-to-forget travel horrors of holidays past have prompted the airlines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Bush administration to do their best to ensure that this holiday doesn't turn into – in President Bush's words – "The Nightmare Before Christmas."
The TSA has opened special family travel lanes and held training sessions to help workers deal with stressed-out travelers, the airlines have put on extra staff, and the Bush administration has opened up military airspace to ease potential storm-related congestion.
So pack light and carry a good sense of humor: Everyone, at least, is trying.
"What's different and positive compared with the last couple of years is that the airline workforce is not as dispirited," says Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition in Radnor, Pa. "So from a customer-service standpoint, it should be an overall better experience."