Now arriving: Summer rush at Hartsfield-Jackson

It’s Thanksgiving in May at Hartsfield-Jackson International, except the lines could be even longer.

An estimated 83,500 travelers are expected to pass through security checkpoints at the Atlanta airport on Friday, close to the record 88,000 last year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The weekend will test a system plagued by extra-long security lines in recent weeks, at Hartsfield-Jackson International as well as other big U.S. airports.

Just three years ago, a busy holiday weekend had passenger counts at security checkpoints in the 60,000 range. The rapid growth in travel, coupled with staffing issues at the Transportation Security Administration, has translated into lines snaking into the domestic terminal atrium on a regular basis. Some say airline fees that encourage more carry-ons have added to the problem.

Industry and airport officials say fixes are coming but won’t be quick. For now, the TSA advises travelers to get to the airport with lots of time to spare.

“We want everyone to get to the airport at least two hours early — and (recommend) up to three,” TSA spokesman Mark Howell said. “You need to treat your trip to the airport this weekend like it is a holiday weekend … because it is going to be very heavy volume.”

TSA is bringing screeners from lower-volume airports to Hartsfield-Jackson for the weekend, and it has started increasing staffing during busy mornings “to help get in front of it,” Howell said.

Over the summer, the agency is adding more staff and canine units. Delta Air Lines employees are also helping to manage security lines at Hartsfield-Jackson and other airports. Re-tooled security lanes to speed the flow also are being tested.

TSA also advises travelers to be careful not to bring prohibited items like bottled liquids and guns, among others.

While Saturday and Sunday travel will be less crowded at Hartsfield-Jackson, traffic will spike again Monday.

The busy season will continue over coming weekends, with more than 80,000 travelers expected to pass through Atlanta airport security checkpoints on certain days over the next two.

Driven in part by lower air fares, air travel is expected to be up 4 percent from 2015 levels this summer, according to airline industry group Airlines for America. Nationally, about 231.1 million passengers are expected to fly on airlines from June through August.

A survey by the U.S. Travel Association showed that one in five travelers will avoid flying or delay or cancel trips due to long TSA lanes. The association estimated that the security wait times will cost $4.3 billion in lost travel spending over the summer.