New U.S. Record Set For Busiest Day Of Air Travel, TSA Reports

The Transportation Security Administration expects Tuesday and Wednesday to be nearly as busy as travelers fly home after the long Thanksgiving weekend.

If holiday air travel seemed especially busy this year, the numbers add up.

The Transportation Security Administration on Monday said it recorded its busiest day of air travel ever on Sunday, with the federal agency screening more than 2.9 million passengers at airports nationwide.

Historically, the three busiest travel days in the year are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after, the TSA has said.

The agency had anticipated this holiday season to be its busiest ever, with 2023 already seeing seven of the top 10 busiest travel days recorded.

The prior record was set on June 30, when the TSA reported screening 2.8 million people in a single day. The next highest number, which was just 1,869 people fewer, was on Dec. 1, 2019.

The TSA has said that it anticipates Tuesday and Wednesday this week will be almost as busy as Sunday, with an estimated 2.6 million passengers likely screened on Tuesday and 2.7 million passengers on Wednesday.

It has advised passengers to arrive two hours before scheduled flight departures to have enough time for parking, checking in baggage and completing the security screening.

Passengers enter the TSA Pre-Check security line last week at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
via Associated Press
Passengers enter the TSA Pre-Check security line last week at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

In terms of top airport traffic, though, no official numbers were immediately available, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport said it was anticipating 3.6 million passengers to pass through from Nov. 17 to Tuesday, with 80,000 travelers alone recorded on Monday.

Los Angeles International Airport received about 206,000 passengers on Sunday, a spokesperson said. The airport said it was expecting up to 2.5 million passengers from Nov. 16 through Nov. 27.

Chicago’s O’Hare International and Midway airports said they were anticipating more than 285,000 passengers on Sunday, with 1.65 million passengers total from Nov. 21 to 27.

The TSA record on the number of screened passengers follows a report earlier this month from a team of aviation experts warning the Federal Aviation Administration that airport staffing shortages, aging technology and poor funding are amplifying the risk of accidents and flight delays at the nation’s airports.

The panel, which was tapped by the FAA to offer its guidance, offered a list of safety recommendations to help avoid “future serious incidents or accidents.”

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