Whether flying for business or pleasure this summer, most travelers have heard about or already experienced the abnormally long wait times at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints. But, thanks to additional staffing and funding by individual airports and an improved 10-point plan by TSA, wait times have been coming down, and will hopefully stay that way for the rest of summer.
Despite airport and security improvements, summer has always been the busiest travel season. So, before heading out of town, it is good to be aware of the days and weeks that have historically been the busiest of the summer in the nation’s largest airports.
At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, holiday weekends, namely Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and Labor Day, are the busiest, with the Friday before each weekend showing the heaviest traffic. The airport has increased TSA staffing, added canine teams, and two Delta Air Lines “innovation lanes” and security checkpoints to keep up with summer traffic.
ATL spokesman Andy Gobeil said “We [airport staff] communicate on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis with not only the TSA, but also with our airline partners.”
Last year, at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Aug. 3 and July 6 were the two busiest travel days. This year, the Chicago Department of Aviation is expected a number of high-traffic days at ORD throughout the summer months, and has been working with TSA and its airline partners to prepare better than ever before.
Historically, Denver International Airport has seen its busiest travel days in July and August. This year, the airport expects the Fourth of July weekend to be peak travel time. DEN has hired seven contract security workers to help out at security checkpoints this summer.
At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, July and August are typically the busiest months, with Thursdays and Fridays being the highest traffic days. SEA has already seen a 10 percent increase in passenger traffic this year, and hired 90 full-time private security workers for the summer to help TSA agents.
A San Francisco International Airport spokesman, Doug Yakel, explained that summer is the busiest season for SFO, “in part because airlines typically increase the available seats for the summer season.” In preparation for the busiest travel days SFO has ever seen, officials meet on a weekly basis with TSA, airline partners, service providers, and other key players to make sure staffing and security is appropriate for each week.
Los Angeles International is expecting a record 24.5 million passengers this summer, a 7.3 percent increase from last year, with July 18-24 expected to be the busiest week overall. LAX officials say TSA lines are being managed, but will inevitably grow as the number of travelers increases.
The busiest summer days for JFK International Airport are expected to be Aug. 11, July 28, Aug. 4, July 21, and July 14, respectively. At JFK’s Terminal 4, more than $250,000 has been invested to increase staffing through Sept. 10.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International sees its busiest days in March, but expects July Fourth weekend to be the busiest of the summer. TSA and airport staff have increased communication to meet travelers’ demands.
Miami International Airport sees its high-traffic days in the winter, but traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with TSA officials and acquire 60 additional screening officers to cope with the unusually busy summer months. MIA opened an additional checkpoint for peak hours.
Dallas/Fort Worth International is benefitting from American Airlines’ $4 million deal to ease checkpoint backups at airports this summer, through added staff and volunteers. DFW also struck up a $600,000 deal with AT&T in June, which will help with summer staffing and security issues. For more information regarding preparing for summer travel, [Click Here].
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