Reno-Tahoe airport gearing for holiday passenger surge

Staff Report

Reno-Tahoe International Airport officials are preparing this holiday season for the highest passenger numbers since the coronavirus pandemic impacted air travel in March.

Officials said Christmas week through New Year’s the airport will be busy and personnel will be working diligently to provide the safest, most sanitary travel experience possible.

Wednesday, Dec. 23, will be the busiest travel day at RNO with over 5,000 travelers scheduled to depart. RNO has stressed a safe and sanitary travel experience since the pandemic’s outbreak, complying with all CDC guidelines and state directives including the requiring of face coverings and social distancing. With the increase in traffic over the holidays, staff will continue working around the clock to ensure sanitization efforts meet the travel demand.

Airport holiday traditions such as caroling, musical performances, and random acts from the Kindness Take Flight team are canceled this year. However, the New Year’s Resolution Wall will be on full display just past security from Dec. 28 – Jan. 4, encouraging travelers and employees to share their resolutions for 2021.

RNO’s Paws 4 Passenger teams will also be working to bring holiday cheer during busy travel times.

While passenger counts are still down from years’ past, officials say it’s important to arrive early and allow time for parking, airline check-in, and TSA security lines. The following travel tips will help make the airport experience less stressful:

Arrive at least 90 minutes prior to your scheduled departure or two hours before international flights. Many locals are accustomed to a quick trip through RNO, but it’s wise to always expect delays.

Allow extra time to return rental cars.

The Transportation Security Administration will staff the security checkpoint starting at 4 a.m. To expedite the security screening process:

Empty pockets, remove shoes and jewelry, and place them in the bins provided. TSA requires removing personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag (e.g. laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles). Remember to retrieve all belongings after screening.

Wear comfortable clothing and masks. Be prepared to remove coats, jackets, and all outerwear.

Know the TSA 3-1-1 rule for carry-on bags at Liquids, gels and aerosols such as shampoo, lotion and perfume must be packed in a one-quart plastic baggie, one baggie per customer placed in its own bin. An exception is being made for hand sanitizer (up to 12 ounces) during COVID-19.

Food brought through security usually requires extra screening.

Call the airline or visit their website prior to departure to check flight status. Weather across the nation can impact flights at RNO. Sign up for automated alerts sent directly to your smartphone.

To save time, download boarding passes at home. For specific luggage check-in cut-off times and baggage fees, please visit your airline’s website. All airlines at RNO except Southwest charge for the first checked bag.

The holidays are a time when many young children fly unaccompanied to their destination. If sending off a departing unaccompanied minor or a senior traveler, request permission from airline ticket counter personnel to accompany the passenger to the gate. Proper identification will be required to drop off and pick up a child/senior.

Do not wrap gifts. Wait until you reach your destination as the TSA may need to unwrap them for inspection.

RNO continues to take a multi-layered approach to sanitation during the pandemic. In addition to a mandatory mask requirement, the airport has added 1,000 social distancing stickers and plexiglass shielding at every counter. In-depth cleaning is also conducted in the terminal throughout the day. Airport officials are also encouraging employees and passengers to wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.

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