(FOX 11/CNS) - About 5.8 million people are expected to pass through Los Angeles International Airport during the 25-day holiday travel period that began last week, airport officials said today as they urged people to plan ahead and bring a dose of patience.
The official 25-day travel period began Friday and will continue through Jan. 7, according to Los Angeles World Airports officials. The estimate of 5.8 million travelers is up 1.2 percent from last year's holiday period.
The busiest travel days are anticipated to be Dec. 26, when more than 255,000 travelers are expected at the airport; this Friday, when 249,000 are expected; and Sunday, when 250,000 are anticipated.
The lightest travel days are expected to be Dec. 25 and Dec. 31, with between 212,000 and 214,000 travelers are anticipated at LAX.
Airport officials suggested that motorists heading for the airport during the holidays consider using Century Boulevard.
"We noticed during the Thanksgiving holiday period that Century Boulevard was underutilized while other entry points to the airport were significantly backed up," Keith Wilschetz, LAWA's deputy executive director for operations and emergency management, said in a statement. "For the upcoming holidays, we strongly encourage motorists, especially those coming from the north to enter the airport from Century Boulevard."
Airport officials also recommended that motorists consider entering LAX on the lower/arrivals level, which typically has lighter traffic than the upper level. Passengers can be dropped off on the lower level then take elevators or escalators to reach the departures level.
Passengers are advised to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to boarding time for domestic flights and three hours for international flights.
Airport officials also urged travelers to consider alternate transportation to LAX, such as the Metro Green Line and shuttle buses or FlyAway buses, which operate from Hollywood, Long Beach, the San Fernando Valley, Union Station, Van Nuys and Westwood.
The Automobile Club of Southern California predicts that 8.7 million people across Southern California will be taking trips of 50 miles or more between Saturday and Jan. 1. That's up 4.8 percent from last year and the highest number since the club began tracking travel estimates.
The vast majority of those people -- about 7.7 million -- are expected to travel by car, according to the Auto Club.