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Airports nationwide seeing travel surge ahead of Memorial Day weekend

Gearing up for Memorial Day travel
Airports nationwide seeing travel surge ahead of Memorial Day weekend 02:03

The much-anticipated summer travel season kicks off this Memorial Day weekend, and airports across the country are already seeing a surge of travelers. According to the Transportation Security Administration, more than 7 million people passed through TSA checkpoints from Saturday through Monday.

The nation's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, is preparing for a substantial influx of passengers, with Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens expecting over 2 million flyers this weekend. 

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby predicts that this Memorial Day will be the busiest in over a decade. He also expressed concerns about air traffic control challenges, which he considers the No. 1 issue as the industry enters the summer season.   

"This weekend will be a test of the system," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at a recent press conference. "And I think all of us have airline stories from last summer and the disruptions that took place then. Cancellation and delay rates were at unacceptable proportions last year. And it's important that that not happen again."

The Department of Transportation reports that the first three months of 2023 saw a cancellation rate below 2% for U.S. airlines, which is a significant improvement compared to the staffing and weather-related disruptions that led to over 45,000 cancellations last summer.

Nationwide, the TSA is bracing for a potentially record-setting summer. 

TSA Administrator David Pekoske said the agency will have more staff this year than last year. Airlines have also reduced summer flying at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration.  

With Thursday, Friday and Monday anticipated to be the busiest travel days, passengers are advised to plan accordingly. Full flights could not only mean longer wait times at airport checkpoints, but also potential delays in parking garages. Travel experts recommend considering advanced planning or alternative transportation options, such as rideshares, to mitigate potential issues.  

Additionally, carrying on luggage can save time in case of flight complications, as it is easier to secure another flight with just a carry-on. 

Already, long lines at airports have resulted in missed flights for some travelers. Christina Jones, who missed her flight to Orlando due to extensive queues, expressed her frustration, saying, "I'm missing my job. My kids, my man, my house. I want to go home and get in my bed." 

To avoid such situations, travel experts advise budgeting at least two hours for airport lines to help ensure a smooth travel experience during the Memorial Day weekend. 

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