Holiday travel tips for merrier holiday travel

December 20, 2017

Unlike the Thanksgiving Holiday travel period which is concentrated into a single weekend, Christmas holiday travel period is spread over multiple weeks. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) officials are encouraging travelers to plan ahead this busy travel season. Planning ahead means allowing plenty of time – to get to the airport, find parking, check in and go through security. Once past security, travelers can begin to enjoy what CLE has to offer this holiday season.

Travelers should be aware of the airport’s peak activity times which include early morning from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., early afternoon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and late afternoon to early afternoon from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Holiday Cheer

Back by popular demand, CLE and American Greetings have teamed up to provide FREE gift wrapping to passengers on December 21st and 22nd. Passengers can find gift wrapping stations located on the secure side of the checkpoints from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. On December 22nd Santa Claus will stop by the airport to meet with airport officials about his annual stopover on Christmas Eve and file his flight plan with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Santa will also take some time to walk the terminal and talk to a few boys and girls he may have missed throughout the holiday week (21st-22nd).

Travel Tips

Airport officials encourage travelers to arrive at least 2 hours before scheduled departures to allow time for inclement weather, traffic, parking, checking-in and going through the checkpoints. Please look for signs, our Gold Coat Ambassadors and our Landside Operation employees in blue for assistance.

CLE’s web site is a one-stop shop for travelers looking for travel information. Visit the web site at to the following:

  • Status of your flight
  • Airline contact information
  • Status of airport parking
  • Status of the TSA Checkpoint wait times

Follow CLE on Twitter at @GoingPlacesCLE and on Facebook at for airport tips and updates.

Consider using the airline’s website to do advance check-in to print your boarding pass up to 24-hours before departure.

Travelers have a variety of parking options, including:

  • CLE Curbside Valet, $25 per day, located on the upper roadway.
  • The Smart Parking Garage, $18 per day or $5 per hour.
  • The Red Lot, $16 per day.
  • The Blue Lot, $14 per day.
  • The Orange Lot, $13 per day.
  • The Brown Lot, $9 per day.

Picking up friends and family at the airport? Don’t circle the airport waiting for the call they have arrived. Park and wait in the CLE Cell Phone Lot located off State Road 237 South. Follow the blue directional signs for easy parking.

RTA Red Line to the Airport

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) offers convenient service to and from CLE. RTA's Red Line provides regular service between CLE and downtown Cleveland via the Tower City Station. The trip takes less than 30 minutes and trains depart from CLE every 25 minutes for the majority of the day.

For more information, visit the RTA web site at or call The RTAnswerline at 216-621-9500.

TSA Travel Tips 

Always have a government-issued ID ready to present at the airline ticket counter and security checkpoint.

Be prepared for the screening process:

  • Arrive at the airport 2 hours before your scheduled flight because you aren't the only one traveling during the holiday. In fact, more people are traveling, which is why you'll need more time.
  • Know what is in your carry-on bags and checked bags. Do not bring any prohibited items with you. Don't know if an item is allowed or prohibited? Here's how to find out:
    • Send a tweet to @AskTSA
    • Ask us via Facebook Messenger: has a feature in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage: Can I bring my? Click there and type in the item.
    • Download the free myTSA app, which has the same "Can I bring my?" feature as I mentioned above.
  • People travel with food at holiday times because they want to contribute to a holiday meal. Foods like cakes and pies and cookies are allowed through a checkpoint, but could be subject to some additional screening. However spreadable and pourable food items must go in checked bags (maple syrup, jams, jellies, preserves). Not sure? See the 2nd bullet point above on how to ask TSA.
  • Snow globes that are 3.4 ounces or smaller and fit into the 3-1-1 bag can go in a carry-on bag. If it's larger, pack it in a checked bag. Not sure? The basic rule of thumb is that if the snow globe is larger than a tennis ball, it should go into a checked bag.
  • It's a good idea not to wrap gifts using tape. If the gift triggers an alarm, TSA will need to open it to find out what the item is to ensure it is not a prohibited item. Instead, it is recommended that you:
    • Use a gift bag instead of wrapping the gift in paper with tape, so if the item alarms, the TSA officer just needs to lift the item out of the bag.
    • Use a gift box, so if the item alarms the TSA officer just needs to open the lid.
    • Wrap the gift upon arrival.

TSA Pre✓™ is available at CLE. TSA Pre✓™ allows select frequent flyers of participating airlines and members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs who are flying on participating airlines, to receive expedited screening benefits. Eligible participants use dedicated screening lanes for screening benefits which include leaving on shoes, light outerwear and belts, as well as leaving laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags. Central Checkpoint is exclusively a TSA Pre✓™ checkpoint. During peak hours, South Checkpoint will open a lane as well. For more information on TSA Pre✓™ visit