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Holiday travel tips to safely navigate DIA

Denver International Airport offers tips on how to travel safely over the holidays.

DENVER — Denver International Airport (DIA) expects this holiday season to be less busy than years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Passenger traffic is expected to be down 36% from last year, according to the airport.

While traffic through the airport may be down from years past, there are safety precautions, along with construction and garage closures that could add time to an unprepared traveler.

For those having to travel this holiday season, DIA has provided these tips to safely navigate the airport over the holidays.

>Video above: A look at some of the safety measures at DIA

Masks, social distancing and cleanliness

Everyone in public space at DIA is required to wear a face covering. All major domestic airlines require passengers to wear a mask onboard as well. Any passengers who need a mask can purchase one at concessions throughout the airport or at either of the two vending machines located in the terminal, according to DIA.

Signs and other indicators are placed around the airport to encourage passengers to social distance themselves. Plexiglass barriers have also been placed at check-in counters, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) document screening, airline podiums and some shops and restaurants, the airport said.

More than 100 hand sanitizer dispensers are located throughout the airport and disinfecting wipe dispensers are in each gate area. The airport has increased the frequency of cleaning in all public spaces and on the train, according to the airport.

Security checkpoints

All DIA security checkpoints are open and operating normally. TSA lines have been reconfigured to provide wider lanes to allow for social distancing. A TSA agent may ask passengers to remove their mask to verify their identity when documents are checked, DIA said.

TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. TSA also asks passengers place their carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place that bag into a bin during screening, according to DIA.

If possible, passengers should consider using the A-Bridge Security Checkpoint, located on Level 6 on the north side of the terminal. This security checkpoint is walking distance to the A gates and open from approximately 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., the airport said.

Parking

DIA’s shuttle parking lots, including Pikes Peak and Mt. Elbert, East Economy lot and valet parking in both garages are currently closed. All other DIA public parking lots are open, including West Economy, the east and west garages, short term parking and the 61st and Peña lot, according to DIA.

Parking shuttles are running from the West Economy lot to the DIA Transit Center as usual, every 10 minutes. Shuttle capacity is limited to approximately eight passengers at a time. Passengers parking in West Economy are still able to access the east side of the terminal, DIA said. Learn more about parking changes or view a list of alternative shuttle lots here.

Trains to the gate

DIA had the following tips to help with traffic flow on the terminal trains:

  • Busy train times generally come in short waves and trains run every 2-3 during peak times. If a train is crowded, we recommend waiting for the next one
  • Move to the center of the train platform, instead of waiting for a car at the end, generally center cars are less crowded
  • Passengers flying out of or into an A Gate should walk across the A-Bridge on Level 6, which eliminates the need to get on the train completely. Passengers flying into/out of a B or C gate can also access the A-Bridge, which will shorten their travel time on the train. 
  • Train rides are brief, 2-3 minutes on average. This coincides with CDC guidance regarding community exposure, they recommend less than 15 minutes around others in masks

RELATED: Tips for safely celebrating Thanksgiving amid COVID-19 pandemic

More tips

  • Passengers are encouraged to plan ahead by checking FlyDenver.com for real-time information on security screening wait times and for details on the status of the airport’s garages and parking lots.
  • DIA has three security checkpoints. South Security is open 24 hours a day, North Security is open between 4 a.m. and 9 p.m. and Bridge Security is open from 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Passengers should arrive in the terminal at least two hours in advance to ensure the smoothest airport experience.

Navigating construction

Travelers need to be aware of two major improvement projects happening at the airport. The first is the Peña Boulevard improvement project.

Due to construction-related lane closures, drivers headed to the terminal on inbound Peña Boulevard should stay in the dedicated east-side or west-side lanes before entering the construction zone at Jackson Gap:

  • Drivers should use the left lane if they are picking up or dropping off passengers at Terminal West or parking in Economy Parking
  • Drivers should use the right lane if they are picking up or dropping off passengers at Terminal East
  • All airlines and security checkpoints are accessible from both Terminal West and Terminal East

Second, is the Great Hall Project. The Great Hall Project construction has closed two lanes and the sidewalk on Level 6 passenger drop-off between Doors 606 and 610 (West side) and Doors 607 and 611 (East side). However, between Nov. 20-30 and Dec. 18-28, the Level 6 sidewalk will be open during the day to accommodate holiday traffic and allow passengers to access the sidewalk and curbside check-in, according to DIA.

The best way to navigate terminal construction is to follow all signage on Peña Boulevard to get to the correct airline check-in area of the terminal (East or West side). Once inside the airport, follow signs to your destination or access DIA's interactive map online by scanning QR codes posted at check-in and throughout the terminal to help navigate around construction, the airport said.

RELATED: CU, CSU telling students, staff to get COVID-19 tests before going home for Thanskgiving

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