MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As Covid-19 restrictions continue to loosen nationwide, the Memphis International Airport is expecting big crowds this holiday weekend.
Massive lines filled the international airport Thursday but airport officials say they expecting much larger crowds this Memorial Day Weekend.
“I expected really to come get my ticket, they do our bags and get on the plane, but yea, it’s something different I see,” said one traveler named Jasmine.
“Everybody is ready to start traveling again. We’re both wrapping up a school year. We’re both teachers,” said Tara Peeper.
“We were excited to get away. We didn’t care about the line,” added Ashleigh Williamson.
“I was kind of a little nervous about it, but I see everyone’s masked up. So, it seems like everything is under control,” said Joey McPeak.
Last year, airport officials said TSA screened less than 8,500 passengers during the holiday period due to the pandemic, but this year, they’re expecting close to 40,000 people Thursday through Tuesday.
That’s a 371-percent increase.
So, in order to ensure everyone makes it to their destination on time, the airport wants passengers to keep a few things in mind. Baggage claim operations are now taking place in the “B” baggage lobby with the one exception being those who are flying Vacation Express, which will use the “A” baggage lobby.
Because of the expected traffic, the airport is encouraging people who are picking up someone to wait in the cell phone lot.
It also recommends people arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before their flight leaves. Officials said the busiest time periods are between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.
Even with larger crowds, the airport is still taking COVID-19 precautions. Despite local mask mandates loosening, passengers over the age of two are still required to wear a mask.
As far as the TSA’s rule requiring liquids to be 3.4 ounces or less, it’s making an exception for hand sanitizer which can now be up to 12 ounces.
Nationwide, 2.5 million Americans are expected to fly this Memorial Day weekend.