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Catching a flight at LAX for Thanksgiving? Get there early

Trying to catch a flight home before the turkey comes out of the oven can feel like a marathon. There’s the congested roadways, the extra long airport lines and the extra short tempers.

But on Wednesday, Los Angeles International Airport officials reported that things were running smoothly in advance of Thanksgiving, despite extra security measures taken in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.

No flights have been canceled or delayed so far, said LAX spokeswoman Mary Grady said.

“Everybody is planning for it,” she said. “People are getting in and out.”

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The airport is expecting to serve 170,000 passengers and all flights are about 90% full, Grady said.

That means it’s going to be hard at this point to catch a flight to one of six popular U.S. destinations: San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Boston. Those flights are about 95% full, Grady said.

She attributed most of the delays that occur to traffic congestion from 86,000 vehicles dropping off and picking up passengers a day at the airport’s central terminal area.

NEWSLETTER: Get the day’s top headlines from Times Editor Davan Maharaj >>

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But traffic could be avoided by using the airport’s cellphone waiting lot at 96th Street and Vicksburg Avenue. Family members and friends can wait up to two hours for arriving passengers. From there, drivers and passengers could take a shuttle into and out of the terminal.

Starting at 3 p.m. Wednesday, airport officials will hand out hot chocolate, snacks and offer free giveaways to people using the lot.

To steer clear of long wait lines, avoid the airport’s busiest times: 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., 11 a.m. to noon and 7 to 11 p.m.

Grady recommends passengers arrive at the airport three hours before a foreign flight and two hours before a domestic flight.

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Security is being beefed up this holiday weekend following the terrorist attack in Paris. Airport officials, she said, are always assessing intelligence from the U.S. and abroad.

Officers will be patrolling the airport on bicycles, foot, Segways and police cruisers. They plan to conduct random vehicle searches and the explosives team will remain close by, Grady said.

“This is just Thanksgiving,” she said. “We still gotta get through Christmas.”

For more tips on getting through the airport during the holidays, visit the LAX website.

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