The Santa Barbara Airport’s new terminal is packed with travelers this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, the first big rush since it opened in August.

The $54 million, 72,000-square-foot facility gives passengers access to restrooms, food, departure lounges and free WiFi, unlike the old terminal. The airport is pursuing LEED certification for the terminal, a requirement for all new city buildings. About half of the airport’s property is located on the Goleta Slough Reserve.

This Thanksgiving weekend, travelers are advised to park in Long Term Parking Lot 2 off Hollister Avenue and use the free shuttles for easy access to the terminal, since there is still ongoing construction for the airline terminal project. The original 1942 building will be refurbished and turned into the Airport Security Operations Center, and a short-term parking lot and terminal road should be completed by mid-2012.

Airport Director Karen Ramsdell said the vast majority of people who told her they used the new terminal had positive comments, which was a relief.

“I know change is hard on us humans, so it’s gratifying to know the customer is enjoying it,” she told Noozhawk in an e-mail.

Last holiday season, fliers were considering “opt-out” days regarding the full-body scanners implemented in hundreds of airports across the country. During the past year, privacy concerns over pat-downs and scanner images added to health concerns over the radiation used to get the images, but the public outcry so far this holiday season hasn’t been anywhere near that of 2010.

There is no firm date for the Santa Barbara Airport to get scanners installed, but the decision is at the discretion of the Transportation Security Administration.

TSA regional spokesman Nico Melendez told Noozhawk last fall that the scanners are installed “where the installation process is not going to be a monumental task, frankly.”

Some airports don’t have strong enough floors, high enough ceilings or enough electricity available to install them, so there is a smattering of scanners coast-to-coast. The Santa Barbara Airport’s new terminal can, and will, have them installed, most likely in the first quarter of 2012.

This holiday season, the airport offers the following tips for travelers:

» Plan ahead. Arrive two hours before your flight departure time to find parking, check-in with your airline and go through security screening. Click here for the Santa Barbara Airport’s live flight schedule.

» Pack smart. Know what items are accepted or prohibited through security and on the aircraft. As a reminder, gifts should not be wrapped as they are subject to search, even if placed in checked baggage. The TSA liquid restrictions remain in place; bottled water and liquids over 3 ounces are prohibited through security screening at the boarding gates. There are restrictions on transporting toner and ink cartridges on passenger airplanes.

» Parking. SBA offers long- and short-term parking options at the terminal. During the construction period, the airport suggests travelers take advantage of Long-Term Parking Lot 2 on Frederick Lopez Road, off Hollister Avenue near Fairview Avenue. A free airport parking shuttle will take passengers directly to the airline terminal and is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Short- and long-term parking is also available next to the terminal. All parking lots are automated, accepting payment via cash or credit card. Click here for parking rates and locations.

» Transportation Security Administration. Click here for helpful hints for holiday travelers.

The airport administration office will be closed Friday, and Dec. 19 through Jan. 2 for furlough and holidays.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.