Hartsfield-Jackson preparing for Labor Day crowds

4:37 p.m Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017 Business
Friday is expected to be the busiest day of the Labor Day travel period at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport expects Friday to be the busiest travel day of the Labor Day weekend, with about 85,000 travelers passing through security checkpoints.

Overall the airport expects more than 2 million passengers over the holiday travel period, including arriving and connecting passengers.

Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Roosevelt Council said opening security checkpoints earlier with extra staff and new automated security lanes have helped keep screening times “at a minimum throughout the day,” which he said he expects to continue this weekend.

Labor Day marks the end of the busy summer travel season, but it is not the busiest period of the year at the airport. The airport had a record day on June 30, when its security checkpoints handled 92,421 passengers. Labor Day crowds are not expected to be quite as large, since students are already back in school.

Hurricane Harvey has prompted dozens of flights in and out of Atlanta to be cancelled over the last several days, including 14 cancellations on Saturday, 49 cancellations on Sunday and all Houston flights canceled Monday and Tuesday.

Council said after-effects of the hurricane could affect the airport, such as disruptions for oil refineries, but “so far we have not been impacted by that.”

The airport’s new Uber and Lyft pickup zones will continue to be in use over the holiday weekend, requiring ride-share passengers at the domestic terminal to walk through the parking garages to a ride-share pickup area in the economy lots. The move is temporary, while giant canopies are built over terminal curbsides.

After long waits and hassles for passengers and drivers on a Thursday night shortly after the launch of the new pickup zones two weeks ago, Council said the process has been improving. He said the airport continues to work on efforts to remedy the situation including a dedicated line for drivers, more signs and a public service announcement.

Council said moving the zones was not intended to benefit taxis. While the airport tried to discourage ride-share pickups before they were legally recognized earlier this year, he said “I think it would be irresponsible for us not to address what Uber and Lyft bring.”

About 5,000 passengers a day are being picked up by Uber and Lyft, according to airport officials.

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