More than 1.9 million passengers expected at LAX during holiday travel rush, TSA says

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Friday, December 15, 2023
US airlines to fly 2.8M passengers a day over long Christmas holiday
The three biggest legacy airlines in the United States say they are gearing up for a longer and larger stretch of Christmas holiday travel while aiming for a repeat of this past Thanksgiving, which saw few flight cancelations.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- More than 1.9 million travelers are expected at Los Angeles International Airport during the holiday travel rush that began Friday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

During this period, which lasts through Jan. 2, the TSA said it is projecting higher than usual travel volumes at airports nationwide, leading to reminders to arrive at the airport early and prepared.

The busiest days of the holiday season for air travel are projected to be Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 as well as Dec. 28 and Dec. 29.

With a steady volume of departing travelers at LAX, TSA projects 774,000 people will be screened between Dec. 17 and Dec. 23. Security operations will be even busier the week of Dec. 24 through Dec. 30, when more than 791,000 people are projected to be screened at LAX, the agency said.

"We have been planning for the end-of-the-year holiday travel rush at LAX for the past several months, ensuring that we have all of our security assets in place to ensure a smooth and efficient screening process for all travelers," said TSA Federal Security Director at LAX Jason Pantages. "Travelers can expect to see checkpoints staffed and lanes open We encourage the traveling public to take a few minutes and prepare for the security screening process to help keep our operations efficient and smooth."

TSA urges use of California's mobile driver's license/ID

The TSA is also encouraging travelers who have a California license or ID to download the California DMV Wallet.

The app allows users to scan a unique QR code, replacing the need to take out and scan a driver's license or identification card.

"Those who have driver's licenses that have been issued by the state of California have the ability to download a mobile driver's license, use it here in the TSA security checkpoint for their identity verification," said Lorie Dankers, a spokesperson for TSA California.

US airlines prepare to fly 2.8 million passengers a day over holiday rush

Meanwhile, The three biggest legacy airlines in the United States say they are gearing up for a longer and larger stretch of holiday travel while aiming for a repeat of this past Thanksgiving, which saw few flight cancelations.

American Airlines, the country's largest carrier, expects Dec. 22 to be its busiest of a 19-day-long holiday travel period that begins Dec. 20. In all, the airline plans to serve 12.7 million passengers.

The passenger said he hadn't slept for three days and couldn't remember how he boarded the flight in Copenhagen with no passport or ticket.

"The 2023 holiday period is longer than previous years, reflecting the changing travel habits of our customers and school schedules in many of American's hub markets," the airline said.

The Federal Aviation Administration says holiday air traffic overall will peak on the Thursday before Christmas with the agency's air traffic controllers handling 48,959 flights.

In a sign of how spread out winter holiday travel has become, Delta Air Lines spokesperson Morgan Durant told CNN that there is a "seven-way tie" for that carrier's busiest days.

Delta is expecting to serve around 9 million people in total, including 600,000 customers each day on December 21 and 22 as well as from December 26 to 30.

Industry lobby group Airlines for America says that 2.8 million passengers will fly each day overall during the holiday rush, representing a 16% increase in the number of holiday fliers over 2022.

Airlines hire ahead of the holiday wave

"U.S. airlines have been working for months to accommodate unprecedented demand throughout the holiday season," the group said in a statement, underscoring that airlines have been "hiring aggressively" and have adjusted flight schedules to match the shortage of air traffic controllers.

That appeared to pay off over Thanksgiving when very few flights were canceled, though the airlines also benefited from favorable weather.

Figures from FlightAware show that US-based airlines canceled only 329 flights during the week of Thanksgiving, a rate of less than 1%, when Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said weather would be the "x-factor."

United Airlines plans to fly around 9 million people, a 12% increase over last year. United says it is "building off the success of Thanksgiving travel" and is "confident the operation is well-prepared for the holiday season."