Portland, OR

Portland International Airport preparing for busiest travel period of the year. Here's what you need to know.

Rose Bak

After pandemic slow-downs last year, Thanksgiving is back and the airport will be crowded with travelers.

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Photo courtesy of Port of Portland

Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally the busiest travel time of the year in the United States, and this year looks to be another hectic one.

The Portland International Airport announced this week that it is expecting half a million travelers to pass through PDX this year, up 300,000 from last year's pandemic lull. As previously reported on NewsBreak, traveling at PDX Airport is a little different than you may remember from before the pandemic. It's best to be prepared before you get to the airport.

While you can pretty much guarantee that any holiday flight is going to be a hassle, here are some ways you can simplify your experience at the Portland International Airport this year.

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Photo by DepositPhotos

Be early. Way early.

The number of travelers will be more than double this year, and a lot of those people have not been on a plane for a while. On a recent trip through PDX Airport, this reporter noted multiple people who seemed confused about removing belts and shoes, and what could go in carry-on bags.

Expect security lines to be super slow. While the average security line wait time at PDX is 18 minutes, you can realistically expect that it may be double that, if not more. You can check out this tool on the PDX webpage for estimates, but plan ahead and assume your wait will be longer.

And use the TSA's webpage to double-check what items you can bring onto your flight in your carry-on baggage. These items seem to change frequently so don't leave it up to chance.

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Photo courtesy of TriMet

Parking may be full.

The Portland International Airport has 3,300 parking spots in short-term parking, and those will likely fill up fast. The PDX webpage has an updating list of how many spots are available in long and short-term parking here.

Some nearby hotels and car rental spots offer parking for travelers, but your best bet will be to take public transportation. The MAX Red Line goes right to the airport for $2.50 each way.

Other options are to get a ride from family or friends, or take a taxi or ride-share like Uber and Lyft. PDX has designed areas for rideshare companies and taxis, but expect long waits and premium pricing, especially if you are traveling on Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday when demand is high.

Here's more information on ground transportation from PDX.

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Photo courtesy of Port of Portland

The airport is under construction.

PDX is in the middle of a multi-year expansion project. That means there is construction noise, bypasses of certain areas, and some of the shortcuts between terminals have been eliminated. Some shops and amenities might be moved. You can also expect things to be loud and dusty, and that you may have to walk further than you're used to in order to bypass construction zones. For the most up-to-date construction information, click here.

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Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Mind your mask.

The Portland International Airport, like all airports, is under a federal mask mandate. However, enforcement can be spotty. On recent trips, this reporter noted multiple people in PDX with masks pulled down below their noses or off altogether. If you're worried about your health, be sure to wear a good quality mask and try to stay away from any mask scofflaws. And be prepared for difficulty with social distancing.

Remember that your kids must also wear a mask to fly. Use this handy guide to help train your child to become more comfortable using a mask so that your trip isn't cut short.

You might also want to bring some disinfectant wipes and a travel sized bottle of hand sanitizer.

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Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

Be patient.

We're all a little irritable. It's crowded and slow and most of us aren't used to being around people we aren't related to anymore. Try a little kindness. It will go a long way.

What are you favorite tips to navigate the Portland airport right now? Share in the comments.

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Rose Bak is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. She writes on a variety of topics including local news, homelessness, poverty, relationships, yoga, and aging. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. For more of Rose's work, visit her website at rosebakenterprises.com or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

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