LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Starting Friday, more than 2.6 million holiday travelers are expected to move through Los Angeles International Airport, up 8.2 percent from last year, airport officials said.

Officials at LAX, considered the sixth busiest airport in the world, say Friday and Saturday, as well as Dec. 26, 27 and 29, will be the days with the most passengers passing through its gates. Light travel days will be Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

The busy holiday travel period is expected to last from Friday through Jan. 2, with flights estimated at 90 percent capacity.

Last year, 2.4 million travelers passed through LAX. Officials believe the increased projection for this year is based on more seats being available due to airlines using larger planes and adding super-jumbo jet flights this year.

Passengers departing from LAX during the peak hours of 6 to 9 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m. should arrive at their airline ticketing lobby two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights. Terminals are expected to be packed during those peak times, and travelers should check in ahead of time on the airlines’ websites to avoid lines.

Volunteer helpers in red vests will be dispatched throughout the airport to assist passengers, with added volunteers and staff assigned to customer service counters and meet-and-greet areas. Trained therapy dogs and their handlers will also be around to cheer up weary or stressed travelers.

Travelers should also be on alert for traffic-lane and sidewalk closures due to the ongoing construction being done as part of a $4.1 billion modernization project at LAX. Construction hours are being restricted to late evening and early morning to help ease congestion.

The parking structures directly across from Bradley International Terminal and terminals 3 and 4 fill up fastest and there may not be space during peak times. There are eight parking structures in the Central Terminal Area and Economy Parking Lot C at 96th Street and Sepulveda Boulevard.

People picking up passengers can park themselves at a free “LAX Cell Phone Waiting Lot” on 96th Street and Vicksburg Avenue next to the entrance of Lot C while they wait for travelers to arrive at curbside.

For traffic conditions around the airport, visit: http://www.lawa.org/laxtrafficmaps.aspx.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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