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Summer fliers to see changes at Atlanta airport

U.S. airlines forecast 4 percent rise in passenger counts


A record number of travelers are expected to take to the skies this summer, according to an airline industry group.

A total of 234.1 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines from June through August, or more than 2.5 million a day, lobbying group Airlines for America said Thursday.

That’s up 4 percent from last summer, amounting to 100,000 additional passengers a day. Driving the growth is an “accelerating economic expansion,” Airlines for America chief economist John Heimlich said.

The Transportation Security Administration said travelers should arrive at the airport up to two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights, according to TSA. The agency said peak periods at security checkpoints will be in June and July, including days around the July 4th holiday.

In Georgia, the number of travelers by air is expected to increase 5.7 percent, according to AAA.

Travelers at the Atlanta airport may notice some new elements at security checkpoints, as well as construction and detours due to the airport’s $6 billion expansion and modernization projects.

Last spring’s long lines and waits at checkpoints frustrated passengers and drove major changes to address the problem. Nationally, TSA now has 50 more canine units in use and 2,000 more officers working compared with last summer.

In Atlanta, other changes include 22 new automated screening lanes aimed at speeding the security process, though Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Roosevelt Council acknowledges there’s a “learning curve” for travelers.

Using the new system of bin movements and following TSA agents’ instructions can be confusing. Council said he is “confident that in time, people will understand the process and enjoy the time-savings.”

Travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson may also notice a new Clear security screening lane, a private membership-based program to speed through security lines. Clear in February opened its security line at the domestic Terminal South near the Delta check-in area, and enrollment stations at domestic Terminal South and North.

A one-year Clear membership costs $179, though Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines bought a 5 percent stake in Clear and is offering $99 annual Clear memberships to SkyMiles members and discounts for elite members.

PreCheck is the TSA’s own trusted traveler program, which allows access to expedited screening that lets travelers keep their laptops and liquids in bags and keep their shoes, jackets and belts on. A five-year membership costs $85.

Travelers should allow extra time to drive to the terminal because of traffic backups due to lane closures on the airport roads. The airport is closing some lanes on the roads outside the terminal as it does preparatory work for the construction of massive canopies that will cover the curbside.

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

AJC Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi keeps you updated on the latest news about Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Delta Air Lines and the airline industry in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

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