The three busiest days at the Ottawa airport fall during the week before Christmas, with more than 10,000 travellers each day.
Graeme Goodlet is one of them.
He’s off to Vancouver to visit his 91-year-old mom, and he’s ready for airport security.
“I just carry a small carry-on bag. We check everything else,” he said.
Goodlet and his wife Carole Gravelle aren’t fazed by the heavy terminal traffic and long lineups.
“You keep it simple and you don’t complicate your life that way, and you don’t complicate the airline peoples’ lives either,” Gravelle said.
Goodlet said he’s toured Central America, Mexico, and Europe extensively in the last five years.
So for these savvy travelers, getting through security is a breeze.
“Just plan for it and just make sure you pay attention to what you can and can’t take on board and you’re fine,” said Goodlet.
Friday morning a tub full of water bottles had been left behind already at security by 10 a.m. along with other items like a baseball bat, Swiss Army knives, and full-size toothpaste tubes and hair products.
“If you’re travelling with gifts don’t wrap them. Their contents may be inspected,” CATSA spokesperson Mathieu Larocque advises.
No gifts on board for John Dalrymple of Williamsburg.
He’s heading to Ft. Lauderdale for a Caribbean cruise.
“Waiting for the rest of the family to come. It’s a family thing. There’s 10 of us going together,” he said.
More than 11,000 people are estimated to arrive and depart at Macdonald Cartier international airport on Dec. 23 — the busiest travel day of the year. Extra foot traffic means extra security.
“We adjust our staffing levels according to volume. And that’s business as usual for CATSA,” said Larocque.
Airport authority spokesperson Krista Kealey recommends keeping up to date with flight information by checking with airlines before leaving for the airport.
“Be prepared. Have your ID, paperwork ready,” Kealey said.
“And bring something to do.”
For train travellers, the crunch started Friday, said Via Rail spokesman Malcolm Andrews.
A student exodus combined with family coming home for the holidays creates “a huge spike,” Andrews said.
“And it’ll just keep going up until Christmas Eve.”
Via’s added extra cars to cope with the influx, which is about double normal traffic.
It won’t ebb until a few days after Jan. 1.
Andrews advises travellers to book early and arrive at the train station in good time because everyone’s lugging around extra luggage.
“We have lots of room, but it just takes a little bit longer,” Andrews said.
— With files from Tony Spears.