Traveling through Denver International Airport can be trying on the best of days, but when it comes to the holidays – and an airport in the midst of a messy renovation – you’re going to need patience, as well as a plan.
The patience is up to you. But we can offer tips to make your planning more effective, courtesy of TSA officials and the Denver Post.
Before heading to DIA:
Take a reality check: First, it’s important to understand just how busy DIA will be at Christmas time. On Dec. 21, the airport is expecting 196,790 people to pass through its terminals and 198,360 on Dec. 27. This means that giving yourself extra time will be key.
Note the renovation roadblocks: DIA’s Great Hall renovation is taking place mostly in the upper levels of the Jeppesen Terminal Building. “Because the work is taking place in the middle of the terminal,” notes the Post, “passengers will not be able to walk from one of the buildings to another on the upper level. If you enter on the south end and need to reach an airline counter to the north, you will have to go outside and come back in, or take the long way around, going down the main level and back up.”
Look for yellow construction signs and DIA staff members positioned with maps around the terminal.
Know security line wait times: To keep apprised of how long the lines are at security checkpoints, log into FlyDenver.com. The homepage will tell you how much time to set aside, as well as the status of airport parking garages and lots.
Choose strategic parking lots: If you arrive 90 minutes or more before your flight, you can drop your bag and check in at the airport’s two economy parking lots: the Pikes Peak and Mt. Elbert shuttle lots. Look for a kiosk and greeter. The service is available Thursdays from 2 a.m.-4 p.m. and Fridays from 2 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Pack according to TSA needs:
- Don’t wrap gifts, as TSA agents may have to inspect the package. Use gift bags or boxes instead, or wait to wrap the gift when you get to your destination.Take care with snow globes, as the liquid in snow globes are under the same restrictions as other liquids. If your snow globe has more than 3.4 ounces of liquid in it, pack it in your checked bag.
- Pack foods that are pourable or spreadable. Notes the Post: “Fruitcake: OK to carry on. Jam: Check it if the jar is larger than 3.4 ounces.”
- For questions about various items, go to TSA.gov or download the agency’s mobile app. “You can even snap a picture of an item and say, ‘Can I bring this on the aircraft?’ and we will respond in real time to say if you can put it in checked bag, your carry-on bag, or if you should just leave it at home,” an airport spokesperson told the Post.
Be prepared for delays: According to MagnifyMoney, a financial website, DIA ranks as the fourth worst airport for on-time flights, with 64.1% of flights arriving and departing on time between Dec. 20 and 31 over the last ten years. Put another way: 35.9% of the time, you should expect delays—and the need for that quality we warned you about: endless patience.