Roads, skies packed with holiday travelers

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The holiday rush is growing at Tampa International Airport, as millions of travelers prepare to fly for the holiday season.

According to AAA, more than 107 million Americans are expected to travel from Saturday through Monday, January 1.

Barbara Shaw and her grandson, Owen Shaw, got a preview of the crowds expected to fill TIA when she arrived on Thursday.

"It's crazy. The traffic getting into the airport was blocked. I think once we got off the exit, it took us about 20 minutes just to get into the airport," said Shaw.

Travelers will need to pack their patience when heading to TIA over the holiday season. Airport officials said travel is up about 7 percent since last year.

"We have plenty of parking, we're fully staffed, but it will take you a little extra time to find parking, to check in, to get through security screenings," explained Christine Osborn, a spokesperson for TIA.

Airport officials recommend that travelers take simple steps ahead of their arrival to have a smoother departure. Leaving Christmas presents unwrapped could save time during the TSA screening process.

"A good tip is to wrap on arrival, and there's a reason for that. You can take wrapped presents through the screening checkpoint. There's no rule against it, however, if the screeners can't identify what's in your wrapped gift and need to have a closer look, they'll have to take the extra time to unwrap it to examine it," said Osborn.

Liquid gifts will not be an exception from the usual rules over the holidays. Full-size bath and beauty products, snow globes and bottles of champagne will not be permitted as carry-on items and must be checked.

Carol Daniels, who flew her mother back to Canada on Thursday, said there's no such thing as being too early for a holiday flight.

"I think we should all leave earlier from your home to get to the airport, and hopefully don't take the wrong exit like I just did," said Daniels jokingly.

Travelers considering TSA pre-check could save themselves time by skipping the TSA line and not having to remove their boots and jackets. Airport officials said there are new rules this year for electronic devices.

"Anything larger than a cellphone, which includes all of your iPads, your tablets, your e-readers, have to be removed and placed in a separate bin. With TSA pre-check, you're exempt from that as well," said Osborn.

Osborn also recommended that travelers check their flight status and national weather conditions at least a day in advance for any possible changes or weather conditions that could impact their flights.