If you think the airport has been crowded and gridlocked in recent months, prepare for it to get even more congested as spring break travel ramps up.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is preparing for millions of spring break travelers, while also warning that it will start construction that will block off portions of the airport roadway right in the middle of the busy period.
Airport officials are now advising passengers to get to the airport at least 2.5 hours before their flights.
The Atlanta airport expects to handle more than 4.4 million passengers during the spring break travel period from March 26 through April 9. The busiest day will be March 31, when 330,000 passengers are expected to pass through the world’s busiest airport.
AAA also released its spring break travel forecast Tuesday, saying its survey results show 41% of Georgia residents plan to take a spring break vacation, up from 30% last year. More are planning to take international trips, including to the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe, the auto club said.
AAA said its survey also shows 87% of people in Georgia plan to travel this year, up from 56% last year, encompassing all types of trips. The results are based on a survey conducted Jan. 27-Feb. 2, with 400 Georgia residents responding.
Strong travel demand will bring more people through the Atlanta airport’s roads, parking decks and terminals — even amid ongoing construction closures.
Hartsfield-Jackson is in the middle of a massive parking deck construction project, and will prepare for its next phase of work later this month when all Terminal North lower-level lanes will close from 10 p.m. March 27 until 10 p.m. March 30. During that time, off-airport shuttles will use the North upper-level outer curb.
Phase 2 of the construction project to shore up the parking decks will run until June 2.
The parking deck work has reduced the number of parking spaces and caused lane closures since it began last year, frustrating travelers and motorists. The full project to shore up the structures, construct new parking decks and demolish the old ones will take years longer to complete.
It’s part of $800 million worth of construction work currently ongoing at the airport, including a Plane Train tunnel extension, ceiling work, and escalator and elevator work.
Over the next 18 months, the airport expects to start on $1.8 billion of construction work, including a massive project to widen Concourse D, the addition of three gates on Concourse E and the construction of a new parking deck where part of the South economy lot sits today.
“The facility is 42 years old... so it just continues to age,” said Frank Rucker, Hartsfield-Jackson deputy general manager of infrastructure, during the airport’s industry day on Tuesday.