Expect record-breaking holiday crowds at airports; our tips to navigating the lines

Dec 16, 2019

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Flying during the upcoming holiday season? Brace yourself.

Airports haven’t gotten any larger in the past year, so expect large crowds and long lines if you’ve got air travel booked between December 21 – January 1.

Almost 7 million Americans — which represents a roughly 5% increase year-over-year — are expected to fly this holiday season, according to AAA.

Denver airport security line (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)


The busiest and quietest travel days this season are predicted to be December 22, the Sunday before Christmas, and December 24, Christmas Eve, respectively.

This trend of increased volume of travelers over the holidays isn’t new. In fact, according to Paula Twidale, Vice President of AAA Travel, “Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays.”

(Photo by Bonfanti Diego/Getty Images)

Unsurprisingly, the most popular destinations this holiday season include warm-weather spots like California, Florida and Hawaii, as well as Mexico and the Caribbean.

If you’re traveling this holiday season, we’ve got some tips to help you manage the congested terminals and long lines.

First, be sure to sign up for TPG’s free daily email newsletter. The newsletter is curated daily and features an expert-traveler approved tip of the day. Furthermore, make sure you’ve got lounge access to help you escape some of the busiest airport concourses. Many of our highly recommended credit cards include free access to top-notch lounges across the country.

TSA PreCheck line at LAX (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Although it may be too late for this holiday season, get a head start on applying for TSA PreCheck and Clear. These programs are lifesavers when it comes to clearing airport security, especially when the terminals are filled with new travelers.

Be sure to check out the great piece put together by the head of family content at TPG, Summer Hull. She suggests going early, being strategic about packing (try to carry on luggage instead of checking), and consider shipping packages ahead of time.

RELATED: TSA PreCheck vs. Clear: Which one to get?

And finally, patience. Be sure to pack lots of it since the airports are going to be crowded.

Featured photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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