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Guide to DIA: Travel tips during the holidays

3 min read
Guide to DIA: Travel tips during the holidays

DENVER (KDVR) — If you’re traveling on Thanksgiving, good luck. Between people traveling home for the holiday and Denver International Airport being the third busiest airport in the world, prepare for a busy flight.

Thanksgiving is a particularly busy time of year.

In 2019, 2021 and 2022, the Sunday after Thanksgiving was the busiest single day of the year in terms of U.S. passengers traveling, based on TSA passenger data.

The amount of people at the airport won’t be the only thing that might slow you down. Here are some factors at DIA that could impact your holiday trip.


Even without holiday traffic, accidents can happen. This can interfere with your timing and arrival at the airport.

Check on traffic before you go. FOX31 has an interactive travel map that shows travel speeds and delays. The Colorado Department of Transportation also has a travel website. You can download the app in the Apple Store or Google Play Store.


DIA parking can be pricey, especially if you’re gone for a few days. The parking garage charges $30 a day, while the economy parking lot costs $18 per day. Both take about a 5 to 10-minute walk to the airport.

The shuttle is cheaper at $8 a day and takes you from the Pikes Peak Lot and Long Peak Lot to the airport. The shuttle takes about 7 to 10 minutes. The lot at 61st and Peña also offers parking for $7 a day.

The parking shouldn’t add too much time to your trip; however, you may want to consider getting a ride to the airport or taking the RTD. The airport’s car theft rates have steadily increased over the past few years.

According to Denver Police Department records, 2023 has seen more auto thefts than ever around DIA. During the first half of the year, January through July, there were 801 auto thefts in the 7-mile radius surrounding the airport.


The general rule is to show up at the airport two hours early. If you’re traveling near Thanksgiving, you’ll probably want to show up even earlier.

DIA is notorious for long lines at security checkpoints. But that is not always the case. Sometimes you breeze right through. Other times, the lines wrap all the way around to the baggage claim.

You can check security wait times online, but these times are only an estimate. You can also reserve a spot in line by making a TSA appointment.

Even taking traffic, parking and security out of the equation, there are still factors that could slow you down. Between shifting through people, checking your bag and finding the gate, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to miss your flight.

Make sure you give yourself enough time if you’re traveling through DIA during the holidays.

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