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12-19-19 - Airport Offers Travel Tips for Busy Christmas Holiday

Reno, Nev.–As record crowds pass through Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) this holiday season, the airport staff is working around the clock to make the travel experience seamless and stress-free through customer service initiatives and a comprehensive holiday parking plan.

RNO’s Kindness Takes Flight team will be on hand to spread joy throughout the terminal, encouraging passengers and visitors to take part in the fun while waiting for a flight or picking up loved ones. Some of the activities include:

  • Christmas Caroling:  Listen to airport staff sing holiday songs and hand out candy canes in both pre- and post-security locations from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on December 20.
  • Holiday Performances:  Music at RNO is underway. On Friday, December 20 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., local pianist and Guinness World Record Book holder Barbara “Squeek” Steele will perform in the lobby. Entertainment by the Reno Philharmonic’s Washoe Carolers is scheduled for Sunday, December 22 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • New Year’s Resolution Wall:  With the great success of RNO’s Gratitude Wall during Thanksgiving, the airport will again host the New Year’s Resolution Wall just past security from December 27 - January 5 where passengers and employees can share their resolutions for 2020.
  • Paws 4 Passengers Therapy Dogs are scheduled to bring smiles and calm to airport guests throughout Christmas and New Year’s.
  • Virginia City Docents dressed in clothing from the Victorian era will greet and assist travelers on December 23 and 30.

The airlines are expecting full flights with more than 15,000 passengers arriving and departing RNO each day during peak travel times that include the two weekends leading up to Christmas and New Year’s.  It’s important for passengers to arrive early and allow time for parking, airline check-in and long TSA security lines. 

Due to significantly higher passenger traffic, parking contingencies have also been put in place to prepare for the 8% increase in peak-day traffic over Christmas 2018.  

RNO has again contracted with Wooster High School for employee parking during Christmas week, freeing up over 400 spaces for customers and to alleviate the backlog of extra cars searching for long-term spots.  Additional on-site parking at the nearby Air Cargo facility will provide another 100 spaces.

Parking staff will also be working to direct traffic and hand out maps if the garage and surface lot fill up.  As a rule, visitors should look to park first in the garage or surface lot, but if full, overflow signs will be clearly marked as guests enter the airport.  Alternative means of transportation such as Uber, Lyft, taxis, public transportation or catching a ride with a friend or relative is also welcome and encouraged.

The following additional travel tips will help make the airport experience a pleasant one:

  • Arrive at least 90 minutes prior to your scheduled departure or two hours before international flights.  Many locals are accustomed to a quick trip through the airport, but this Thanksgiving, expect delays.
  • Allow extra time to return rental cars and watch for signs to guide you to the appropriate drop-off and parking lane.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will staff the Security Checkpoint starting at 4:00 a.m. and will have the Pre-Check line open for registered Pre-Check travelers. TSA has committed to keeping the Pre-Check lane open at RNO all hours the Security Checkpoint is open.  To expedite the security screening process:
    • Empty pockets, remove shoes and jewelry and place them in the bins provided. TSA requires removing personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag (e.g. laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles).  Place these items in a bin with nothing on or under them for X-ray screening.  Remember to retrieve all belongings once through screening.
    • Wear comfortable clothing and be prepared to remove coats, jackets and all outerwear. Place them in the bin for screening.
    • Know the TSA 3-1-1 rule for carry-on bags at www.tsa.gov. Liquids, gels and aerosols such as shampoo, lotion and perfume must be packed in a one quart plastic baggie, one baggie per customer placed in its own bin.
    • Food brought through security usually requires extra screening.
  • Call the airline or visit their website prior to departure to check flight status. Weather across the nation can impact flights at RNO.  Sign up for automated alerts sent directly to your smart phone.
  • To save time, download boarding passes at home. For specific luggage check-in cut-off times and baggage fees, please visit your airline’s website.  All airlines at RNO except Southwest Airlines charge for the first checked bag.
  • The holidays are a time when many young children fly unaccompanied to their destination. If sending off a departing unaccompanied minor or a senior traveler, request permission from airline ticket counter personnel to accompany the passenger to the gate. Proper identification will be required to drop off and pick up a child/senior.
  • Do not wrap gifts. Wait until you reach your destination to wrap holiday gifts as the TSA may need to un-wrap them for inspection.

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