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5 tips for surviving airports during holiday travel

More than 107 million Americans are expected to travel from Saturday through Monday, Jan. 1 — a 3.1 percent increase from last year and the highest year-end travel volume on record, according to AAA projections.

Approximately 6.4 million will travel by air, a 4 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases. The increase comes as the Atlanta airport — one of the busiest airports in the world — recovers from a power outage that grounded all flights on Sunday.

Here’s what you need to know before you head to the airport:

1. Flights could still be impacted by the Atlanta power outage. Local aviation expert Jay Ratliff told this news organization that much like a weather event, a power outage at the world’s busiest airport could have delayed effects throughout the week. The outage is compounded by increased passenger traffic volume for the holidays — which means travelers will be scrambling to squeeze on whatever flights they can.

» RELATED: 5 tips for booking cheap flights

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2. Don’t be picky. If your flight gets canceled or seriously delayed, grab the next best option available to you, Ratliff said. That might mean flying to another city and using a rental car to get through the last leg of your trip, he said. Otherwise, you might be camping out at an airport instead of going home for the holidays.

3. Check your flight before you leave. Don’t show up to the airport without confirming your flight is ready for take-off, Ratliff suggested. Atlanta’s power outage, and other normal flying mishaps, could cause delays in the next week. He also advised that travelers make sure they have a seat assignment confirmation before arriving to the airport to ensure they won’t be put on standby. Airlines typically overbook flights.

» RELATED: WOW air offers cheap flights, but what else will you pay?

4. Prepare to wait in line at security. Ratliff said during the holidays airports are filled with travelers who only fly once or twice a year. That can cause delays through the security and boarding processes. Remember all those wild mishaps on planes and in airports that happened this year?

5. Avoid peak travel days. The worst days to travel this week are going to be Friday, Saturday and Christmas Eve. Also avoid heading to the airport on Dec. 29 and Jan. 2, when people will be heading home around New Year’s. Airports will be less crowded if you can schedule your flights around these days.

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