Returning Thanksgiving travelers flood Atlanta airport, roadways

ATLANTA — Sunday brought the long-awaited return of Thanksgiving travelers from a long holiday week or weekend out of town. Airports and roadways have been much busier than last year and approaching levels last seen in 2019.

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Channel 2 reporter Elizabeth Rawlins spent Sunday at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Rawlins said passengers have been moving like organized chaos with long lines running nearly the length of a football field and at least 15-20 minute or longer wait times at the security checkpoints.

Rawlins spoke to Ryan Orlando who was in a hurry to get through the line and catch an early flight.

“I mean look at it, it’s very busy. Very busy,” Orlando said. “ I’m probably going to miss the flight.”

As of 11 a.m., the Transportation Security Administration security lines were running anywhere from 7-12 minutes. Rawlins said while the security lines might not have slowed people down, the check-in lines combined with security slowed many people down.

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Most airport travelers said the lines while long, were moving quickly. That did not make Christa Bell feel any better about getting to her gate.

“I can’t even see the front (of the line). So I don’t even know how long I’ll wait,” Bell said. “They are saying 15-20 minutes,” said Rawlins. “There’s no way,” said Bell.

Air travel has been slowly making its way back to pre-pandemic levels over the last several months. With the lifting of international travel bans, Hartsfield-Jackson has resumed full operations.

Still, many flyers were surprised to see longer lines and the airport so busy.

“We had to come back outside to check in because the line was so long inside,” Edmundson said.

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According to the TSA, Saturday’s 2,208,192 passengers were only 400,000 fewer than the same weekend in 2019. However that number was over two times the 964,630 people who flew on 2020′s Thanksgiving weekend.

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