Amid long security lines, Hartsfield-Jackson opens overflow checkpoint

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Passenger traffic over this holiday period could eclipse pre-pandemic levels of 2019

Officials at Hartsfield-Jackson International have opened an overflow checkpoint for the busiest periods in response to security lines that stretch through the terminal with wait times of 40 minutes or more during peak times.

The new mini-checkpoint on the lower level of Terminal North opened early Friday morning just as the busy Thanksgiving travel period ramps up.

The overflow checkpoint “is already alleviating wait times,” according to Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Andrew Gobeil. “We’ll work with TSA and our airline partners to monitor the lines over the weekend and will determine best use for the new checkpoint prior to next week’s holiday rush.”

Passenger traffic over the busy holiday period is expected to be close to or above the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

Airport officials are advising travelers to get to the terminal 2.5 to 3 hours before their flights.

Security wait times worsened in October, when a construction project started at the main security checkpoint and closed three security lanes, reducing throughput. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete and will result in the closure of three or four lanes at a time as the airport replaces X-ray machines at the checkpoint.

The long lines for security screening became so severe last month that airport officials began working on the idea of an overflow screening area.

During peak periods such as early morning and evening hours, officials plan to direct some travelers, such as PreCheck members, to the new screening area on the lower level of the terminal.

The new checkpoint with three lanes is next to an employee screening checkpoint on the lower level of Terminal North. It was set up with extra TSA screening equipment that was shipped to Hartsfield-Jackson.