Lines, crowds await holiday travelers at Atlanta airport

Lines, crowds await holiday travelers at Atlanta airport

Atlanta airport officials are gearing up for crowds at the world’s busiest airport as Memorial Day weekend begins, warning travelers to allow extra time to get through the airport.

The Transportation Security Administration may have a record-breaking day at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Friday with more than 76,000 travelers going through security checkpoints, said TSA spokesman Mark Howell.

As the Memorial Day travel period kicked off Thursday, some passengers in the afternoon had security line wait times of up to 30 minutes.

“We are urging passengers to arrive at the airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure time, and to add additional time if parking at the airport,” since many airport parking areas will be filling up, Howell said. Travelers should also allow extra time for traffic, he added. For international passengers, Hartsfield-Jackson advised arriving at the airport three hours in advance.

Including departing, arriving and connecting passengers, Hartsfield-Jackson expects a total of 1.8 million travelers over the Memorial Day travel period.

The TSA also advised travelers to check for prohibited carry-on items like bottled water and large bottles of liquids like sunblock and remove them from carry-on bags before going to the airport.

The agency’s goal is to keep security line wait times under 20 minutes long, and for the PreCheck trusted traveler lines, under 10 minutes, but “you’ll see it fluctuate,” Howell said.

Howell said the TSA is “having to flex the manpower” based on projections for travelers each hour, and has authorized overtime for employees to boost staffing. The agency’s administrative workers are also pitching in, helping to move bins for travelers in line. “It’s going to be all hands on deck at the airport,” Howell said.

He said to expect lines at all of the security checkpoints at the airport. The North security checkpoint will stay open until 8:30 p.m., an hour later than normal, before consolidating traffic into the main security checkpoint.

Weather and Traffic