TSA Expects to Screen 18 Million Passengers for Memorial Day Weekend — and These Airports Will Be the Busiest

Holiday travel could be more or less seamless depending on which airport you're heading out of.

<p>Brandon Bell/Getty Images</p>

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects to screen more than 18 million travelers and crew over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, even more than last summer.

The busiest day at the airport is expected to be Friday, May 24, when nearly 3 million passengers are forecast to make their way across TSA screening checkpoints, according to the agency. From May 23 to May 29, the TSA expects to see 6.4 percent more travelers compared to the same period last summer.

“In close coordination with airport, airline and travel partners, we are more than ready to handle this summer’s increased travel volumes,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “We are also continuing to deploy state-of-the-art checkpoint technology that increases security effectiveness, efficiency and enhances the passenger experience and our retention and recruitment numbers are the highest they’ve ever been.”

To help deal with the increased crowds, the TSA said travelers flying for Memorial Day should arrive at the airport ahead of their flight with plenty of time to spare. Most airlines recommend arriving at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.

However, travels could be more or less seamless depending on which airport you're heading out of. According to data from booking app Hopper, shared with T+L, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, and Denver International Airport will be the busiest while Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Orlando International Airport, Seattle–Tacoma International Airport will be the least busy.

To save yourself a Memorial Day weekend headache, travelers should consider taking the first flight of the day (because it tends to have fewer disruptions) and know your options when it comes to rebooking in case of a delay or last-minute cancellation, Hopper also shared with T+L. It’s also not a bad idea to build in a “buffer day” just in case things go awry. 

For travelers looking for a last minute deal, Hopper Lead Economist Hayley Berg told T+L they should book ASAP since prices are expected to spike more than $40 in the next two weeks leading up to Memorial Day. The good news: airfare is only averaging about $260 per ticket and is actually down 9.5 percent compared to last year.

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