US & World

Airports increase security (and delays) in wake of travel alert

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  Travelers wait in line to have their boarding passes checked at a security screening area of American Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on November 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Orbitz named LAX as the nation's busiest airport for 2011 Thanksgiving travel.
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 23: Travelers wait in line to have their boarding passes checked at a security screening area of American Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on November 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Orbitz named LAX as the nation's busiest airport for 2011 Thanksgiving travel.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Airports nationwide are ramping up security after the State Department on Monday issued a worldwide travel alert.

Even before the Paris terror attacks, travelers flying out of LAX – the busiest airport in the United States for holiday travel – were warned to expect delays.

The airport is expecting a record 2.1 million passengers during the 11-day holiday period, up  7 percent from last year, says Mary Grady, spokeswoman for Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX.

If you were hoping to escape the crowds by flying on Monday, November 30, think again. Grady says it's going to be the busiest single travel day of this Thanksgiving weekend.

"If you're flying back on that day," Grady says, "expect about 219,000 other passengers to be joining you here at LAX."

Want to travel on the least busy day? Book a ticket for Thanksgiving.

To keep travelers safe, airport authorities are relying on a number of strategies.

"The main thing is making sure that people can see the law enforcement that's here," Grady tells KPCC. "We're going to have really high visibility."

That means numerous police officers in patrol cars, on foot beats, on Segways and on bicycles. Explosive detection K9 teams will be patrolling the terminal areas and authorities will continue random vehicle checks at the entrance to the airport.

"But there's a lot that you're not going to see that's being done behind the scenes to keep everybody safe," Grady says.

She urges travelers to arrive at LAX at least two hours before a domestic flight and at least three hours in advance of an international flight.

With the recent alert, delays will likely be longer on the most hectic travel day of the year.

For those picking up passengers, Grady has strong words: Avoid LAX's central terminal if at all possible.

She urges drivers to hang out in the cell phone lot, where they can park for free for up to two hours. Once a passenger has arrived, they can hop on the airport shuttle to Lot C and meet their ride.

More travel tips are available on LAX's website

According to INRIX, anyone trekking to a major airport should factor in 50 extra minutes on the road, the Associated Press reports. Then you can mull over the magic of the holidays as you wait to get through security.