Christmas Eve travel runs smoothly
Detroit — The absence of a white Christmas Eve means smooth travel for people passing through Detroit Metro Airport on Wednesday.
“Mother nature is cooperating,” said Brian Lassaline, public affairs deputy director for the airport.
“There is a little bit of fog and obviously the rain, and I know a lot of people were probably hoping for a white Christmas, but the warmer weather actually makes things a little bit easier on all of us here at the airport.”
There are few flight delays as of Wednesday morning, Lassaline said.
“Most flights appear to be going out on time and we’re doing just fine.”
Lassaline said travelers still should arrive early to give themselves plenty of time. He also suggested a special holiday travel tip.
“We always recommend that you wait until you get to your destination to wrap your gifts,” he said. “People are traveling through the (security) checkpoints and if there’s a problem or a packages needs to be opened, it reduces disappointment” if the gift isn’t already wrapped.
Other travel tips include keeping in touch with the airline to find out about delays or cancellations, utilizing cellphone lots or short term parking when picking up loved ones, and checking tsa.gov to be sure travelers haven’t packed any prohibited items.
While the airport expects thousands of holiday travelers to pass through in the coming days, traffic isn’t expected to be concentrated on just a handful of days like at Thanksgiving.
The airport’s busiest days of the year tend to be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the following Sunday, according to Lassaline. Each day usually averages around 100,000 travelers.
“Right around the Thanksgiving holiday are typically the busiest days of the year,” he said. “But the December holiday traffic tends to be spread out over a larger period of time.”
Airlines for America, an industry trade association that represents U.S. airlines, said it expects 45 million travelers will fly on U.S. airlines between Dec. 17 and Jan. 4, which is an increase of 2 percent over last year.
Metro also expects traffic to be spread out over the 19-day period, with the busiest of days hosting 90-100,000 guests.
Lassaline said the airport is equipped to handle the crowds.
“Things are a little bit busier than normal but...we have plenty of capacity,” he said. “We typically don’t experience very long lines or anything like that.”
For travelers who end up facing unavoidable delays, Lassaline said the airport offers multiple modes of distraction. Longhorn Steakhouse and Gordon Biersch brew pub both recently opened in the McNamara terminal, and holiday decorations are up throughout the airport.
The McNamara tunnel from concourse A to concourses B and C is exhibiting some holiday cheer as well.
“There’s a sound and a light show in there and we’re actually running holiday songs like the Charlie Brown Christmas song,” Lassaline said. “We do a lot of fun things to put people in the holiday spirit. We wish people a great holiday season.”