BOB HAGER, NBC CORRESPONDENT, NBC (voice-over): With the heaviest in Independence Day travel in nine years expected, rain hampered the get-away start in the middle Atlantic. And airports braced for the rush with fewer screeners because of budget cuts. Some travelers like Michelle Bandis (ph) have had it.

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MICHELLE BANDIS: OK, You want to pack this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

HAGER: When she flies now...

BANDIS: This is last bag.

HAGER: She gives her suitcases to someone else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. I'm Michael from Luggage Express.

BANDIS: Hi.

HAGER: Luggage express. One of a growing number of firms that ship bags separately. At about $50 a piece. But short of anything like that, what can you do to ease the hassle? For starters, experts suggest, learning to use the new ticketing machines. That at least avoids one line. Next security.

ROBERT JOHNSON: We see that at the largest airports, the average wait times remain at or below the 10 minutes standard.

HAGER: But beware of the worst peak hours, where a few airports warn delays could be much longer.

(on camera): While you're waiting, get ready. Your ticket in a good safe place so you won't lose it. All your metal together in one pocket or something, because now you're going to have to dump it in a hurry. Taking your shoes off is optional but a good idea because an awful lot of shoes have metal in them. Now you're ready to go through.

The whole idea is to get through this metal detector without setting it off. Because if you set it off, you'll be taken aside and wanded, and that's time consuming.

(voice-over): Also, be careful to retrieve things. Hundreds of phones and laptops are left behind. And get this, so far $143,000 in loose change. As for checked bags, watch the wait. Many airlines now charge $25 or more extra for any over 50 pounds. And don't lock them unless you don't mind if screeners break in to search. Michelle Bandis for one is taking no chances. When she flies, Luggage Express lugs her bags.

Robert Hager, NBC News, Washington.

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