Crowds to fill Hartsfield-Jackson over holiday period

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With delayed flights and layovers, travelers who visit Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport may find themselves with a lot of time on their hands. AJC's Kelly Audette checks all there is to do at the busiest airport in the world.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport expects 1.3 million passengers will pass through it over the Thanksgiving travel period, with the busiest days coming on the weekend after the holiday.

Explore>>Travel tips: AJC’s 2019 Guide to Hartsfield-Jackson

The biggest crowds are anticipated on Dec. 1, the Sunday after the holiday, when 93,300 passengers are expected to pass through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at the world's busiest airport.

Nov. 30, a Saturday, will also be busy, with 90,070 passengers expected to go through Atlanta airport security screening. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of connecting passengers will pass through Hartsfield-Jackson concourses.

John Selden, general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson, said the airport will be “exceptionally busy.”

While nationally, the volume of passengers flying over the Thanksgiving travel period is expected to set records, the record for crowds at Hartsfield-Jackson was set earlier this year after the Super Bowl in Atlanta, exceeding the forecast for holiday traffic.

Officials advise travelers to be in the airport terminal at least two hours before domestic flights and at least three hours before international flights.

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New technology at Hartsfield-Jackson is aimed at making it easier for travelers to get through the security checkpoint in the international terminal. In two of the eight lanes at the international terminal security checkpoint for departing passengers, there are now CT (computed tomography) machines to screen carry-on bags using 3D imagery. That allows travelers to keep their laptops, iPads and quart-sized bags of permitted liquids in the carry-ons that go through screening, instead of having to remove those items and place them in the bin. When announcing plans to roll out the new machines, Transportation Security Administration administrator David Pekoske said the technology “substantially improves TSA’s detection capability at the checkpoint.”-Kelly Yamanouchi

The airport is putting public-facing construction projects on hold during the holiday travel period, and will use in-lane loading and unloading for vehicles on the airport roadways at the terminal. Those picking up or dropping off children or disabled passengers can do so at crosswalks, according to Atlanta Police Department airport precinct commander Timothy Peek.

Those dropping off and picking up passengers can also use the lower level roadways at Terminal North and Terminal South.

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Hartsfield-Jackson has more than 100 restaurants and food and beverage outlets. The top 10 restaurants at the world's busiest airport include national chains, a local favorite and fine dining. No. 10: Popeyes on Concourse B, with $5.6 million in revenue last year No. 9: One Flew South, a sushi bar and high-end restaurant on Concourse E, with $5.7 million in revenue No. 8: Carrabba's on Concourse C, with $5.9 million in revenue No. 7: TGI Fridays on Concourse E, with $6.1 million in revenue No. 6: LongHorn

Authorities advise passengers to remove any guns and other weapons from their baggage before heading to the airport. So far this year, 274 guns have been caught at Atlanta airport security checkpoints and baggage screening.

TSA spokesman Mark Howell also reminds passengers that liquids, gels and pastes over 3.4 ounces are not allowed through security checkpoints.

“If you can pump it, pour it, spread it or spray it and it’s more than 3.4 ounces, you need to put it in your checked bag,” Howell said.