Flying to Christmas destination? What you need to know before you head out

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CLEVELAND-- The Christmas travel season is in full swing and Wednesday is expected to be the most popular day to travel. AAA estimates that the number of people going more than 50 miles away from home for the holidays will top 100 million for the first time ever.

Five-point-eight million people are expected to fly to their destinations. Officials at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport said they are ready to handle the passengers who come through.

"We actually came down from Detroit. We are just getting here about 30 minutes ago, so it wasn't too bad, so we just came right in and got right to the terminal," said traveler, Ryan Townsend.

"Most people during Thanksgiving, they all leave on the same day and they all come back on the same day, so it's very compressed. At Christmastime it's more stretched out; it's actually almost a two-week period," said Interim Airport Director Fred Szabo.

Szabo said passengers should find the airport busy, but manageable. He expects Wednesday to be the busiest day to travel, then again on Monday and Tuesday when many people return home.

“No problem...got the shuttle, went to the Brown lot, drove me right here. There was no wait, anything," said passenger, Donny Weingartner.

"Coming in here early and everything with her, it was hard enough," said his wife, Lori Weingartner.

Airport officials suggest passengers arrive at the airport two hours before their flight. A massive construction project in the terminal has created some confusion and delays.

But the airport director said they have more employees on hand to help people get around, better signage and the TSA has added staffing and increased its hours of operation for security checkpoints.

"We put additional people at the ticket level locations, especially those that are the most confusing, and that way, if you're not familiar with the airport, our staff would then direct you to where you need to go," Szabo said.

Travelers should still be prepared for the usual holiday travel headaches.

"We were supposed to fly out on Frontier at 3:40 and our flight's been cancelled to 8:10 and then we're told it's gonna be at least another hour and there's no guarantee we're gonna get there," said frustrated passenger, Tim Robertson.

Fox 8 checked his flight status online and discovered that Robertson’s flight eventually took off at 8:34 p.m.

Fred Szabo said the busiest times to get through security are probably between 4:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., when airlines’ first flights of the day take off.

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