Along with vacationers returning from weekend trips, Monday is typically a peak day for air travel.
The Transportation Security Administration said expected heavy volumes — including more than 100,000 people through its checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson last Friday, about 70,000 on Saturday and 82,000 on Sunday — caused the long wait times over the weekend.
On Monday, the latest figures showed more than 80,000 passengers were expected through Atlanta airport checkpoints. Traffic will be lighter Tuesday.
“This is revenge travel,” said Steve Mayers, senior director of marketing and customer experience at Hartsfield-Jackson. “I think most people just want to travel after COVID. ... Folks are tired of being locked up for three years, and now they’re using the opportunity to go and explore.”
In particular, “The last couple of weeks have been quite busy across the country,” Mayers said.
Mayers said busy periods at the airport include the morning rush from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and the evening rush from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Increased traffic has led to lines at the South checkpoint for members of TSA’s PreCheck trusted traveler program.
Liz Anderson, who lives in Dunwoody and travels weekly, was initially directed to wait in a line that extended into the corridor from the South checkpoint early Monday morning.
“It’s actually ridiculous,” said Anderson, who is normally able to get through the checkpoint in a few minutes in Delta’s Digital ID line. She was later able to move to that shorter line.
While air travel typically slows in the fall, heavy traffic levels have not abated much after the busy summer season. The Federal Aviation Administration said the Columbus Day holiday weekend would be its busiest holiday weekend for flights so far this year.
Hartsfield-Jackson, meanwhile, has several of its security lanes closed at the main checkpoint for a long-term project to install new equipment, and has been using additional lanes at a lower-level north checkpoint opened last year.
The airport is also in the midst of a massive parking construction project that has reduced parking capacity. Construction closures have caused a parking shortage next to the terminal, and will result in the closure of the South economy lot starting Oct. 23 to build a new parking deck on the site.