sfo03.jpgMillions of Californians are expected to take to the air and highways this year as the holiday travel season officially gets under way.

Though airplane travel statewide is generally expected to decrease as much as nine percent compared to 2010, passenger loads at San Francisco International Airport are expected to increase by five percent between Dec. 16 and Jan. 2, SFO spokesman Mike McCarron said.

Friday is projected to be the busiest day of the holiday travel period, with more than 134,000 travelers scheduled to arrive and depart at SFO, Mike McCarron said.

This holiday season will also see an increase in travelers on the state’s roads, with more than 91 million Californians expected to drive over 50 miles to get to their holiday destinations an estimated 10 million Californians driving to reach their holiday destinations, AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said in a statement.

(Note: Thanks to the eagle-eyed reader who noted that 91 million people don’t even live in California! I made a call to Harris, who helpfully sent me her statement, which contained the correct information from AAA. I also let Bay City News know their mistake. — EB)

For those celebrating closer to home, AAA Northern California is offering its “Tipsy Tow” Program for drivers who have too much to drink over the Christmas weekend.

From 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve to 6 a.m. Monday, anyone can call AAA at (800) 222-4357 for a free, one-way tow to the driver’s home up to ten miles away. Being a member of AAA is not a requirement, Harris said.

AAA will offer its Tipsy Tow Program again on New Year’s Eve, from 6 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. on Jan. 1, according to the agency.

SFO travelers are reminded not to wrap gifts before going through security, in case packages need to be opened for inspection.

As always, liquids in containers of more than three ounces are not permitted in carry-on bags. This includes liquid foods, such as jam, syrup and salsa, airport officials said.

SFO will be offering complimentary gift-wrapping at post-security locations in three of its terminals.

Information on gift-wrapping stations at SFO and other holiday air travel tips can be found online at www.flysfo.com.

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