Holiday weekend brings large crowds to US airports

Apr 15, 2022

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

A combination of warm weather, spring break and the Easter holiday are turning this weekend into one of the busiest travel weekends in a couple of years. It’s a weekend where travelers are hoping for the best after two straight weekends filled with cancellations and delays brought on by mounting weather and staffing challenges.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The holiday travel surge has begun as travelers got an early start on the weekend. Transportation Security Administration agents screened more than 2.3 million passengers at checkpoints on Thursday, making it the second-busiest air travel day of the entire pandemic, trailing only the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2021.

It wasn’t just Thursday. Passenger traffic at U.S. airports Monday through Thursday of this week exceeded the four days leading into Thanksgiving last fall by millions of people.

Airports in the Northeast have been busy for a number of reasons. At Boston Logan International Airport, travelers are feeling the impact of not just Easter and spring break, but also Patriots’ Day and the Boston Marathon on Monday.

photo of the tarmac at Logan Airport Boston
It’s a busy weekend on the tarmac at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Logan Airport officials told TPG Friday that the airport saw its busiest day on Thursday since 2019, with 63,000 passengers departing. New England airports as a whole set a pandemic record Thursday as well.

“We’ve had a busy few days,” airport spokesperson Jennifer Mehigan told TPG in an email Friday, encouraging passengers to arrive early and take public transportation to the airport when possible as parking lots fill up.

It’s a similar story across much of the U.S., and one the TSA expects will continue as we head into the summer months now that many destinations are relaxing COVID-19 restrictions and pent-up travel demand is leading to a surge in travel.

“We’re going to see an increase in passenger volume all throughout the country,” TSA New England spokesperson Daniel Velez told TPG in an interview Friday.

While the agency continues to advise passengers to get to the airport between 90 minutes and two hours ahead of domestic flights, Velez said, right now it’s particularly important flyers arrive early for flights departing between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. “It’s usually good to get there as soon as you can and be ready,” he said.

Related: 10 ways to get through airport security faster

Hopes for a smoother weekend

With Fridays and Sundays generally the busiest travel days nationwide in recent months, it’s likely passenger traffic could well exceed even Thursday’s heavy volume. As passengers head out, they are, no doubt, hoping for a smoother weekend than what we saw the last couple of weekends.

Citing a combination of bad weather, air traffic control delays and staffing challenges, airlines canceled or delayed thousands of flights over two weekends, leaving passengers waiting in airports for hours on end.

Related: Here’s what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

JetBlue faced issues each of the past two weekends, and revealed to TPG last Sunday that it was reducing its schedule through June as it works to bring more staff on board. But the airline warned more cancellations were likely. Alaska Airlines also announced a schedule reduction this month as it works to deal with an ongoing pilot shortage.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Last weekend’s issues had a profound impact on travelers in Boston, where JetBlue operates a major hub. On Friday, Mehigan had hopes that this weekend would run more smoothly.

“We have spoken to our airline partners in preparation for this upcoming week,” she said, noting JetBlue had schedule adjustments planned, as well as intentions of “better communicating to passengers.” Mehigan noted Logan Airport will also have more staff on hand to assist passengers. “We will continue to watch things closely and will let the public know if we are seeing any issues,” she said.

Fortunately, the long weekend appears to be off to a fairly smooth start. According to data from FlightAware, as of Friday afternoon, no airline had canceled more than 7% of its schedule (Alaska canceled 54 flights Friday, which is 7% of its schedule).

Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.