MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami International Airport is expected to see an all-time record number of travelers this Thanksgiving Holiday season. They’re projecting an 11% increase from the 2019 pre-COVID travel period.

The busy holiday period begins on Friday and goes until the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Airport officials are expecting about 140,000 passengers per day.  The busiest day will be the Sunday after Thanksgiving, when 160,000 people are expected to pass through MIA.

To deal with all the, airport officials are urging people to arrive early, at last two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before international travel. They warn the airport will be busier than you may expect.

“Unfortunately, with the rebound of air travel nationwide, we also have a spike in longer lines, busier parking garages and unfortunately a significant increase in unruly passengers incidents over the last year,” said MIA Airport Director Ralph Cutie.

Police are also boosting their presence. “Enhanced security measure have been implemented to provide increased police presence  in the form of traffic enforcement, high visibility vehicle patrols, foot patrols, bicycle response teams and the use of undercover personnel,” said Miami-Dade Police Maj. Eric Garcia.

All of this comes as we’re seeing a 3000% increase of unruly behavior from travelers.  Much of that is fueled by opposition to the mask mandate and many time, excessive drinking.

Signs are set up at the airport urging people to behave.  They say things like, “DONT KEEP GRANDMA WAITING. BAD BEHAVIOR CAUSES DELAYS.”  The signs go on to urge people to Comply with mask laws, Limit alcohol consumption and Call 911 if they see bad behavior.

Below are some tips to make traveling through MIA easier:

  • Arrive at MIA at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight to allow enough time for the airline check-in and security checkpoint screening process.
  • Passengers are encouraged to do their airline check-in online before arriving at MIA.
  • Parking spaces are expected to be limited. Travelers should consider drop-off options such as a ride-share service, taxi or Miami-Dade Transit’s Orange Line.
  • To expedite TSA checkpoint screening, wear easily removable shoes, follow the 3-1-1 rule for liquids or gels in your carry-on, and avoid accessories that resemble weapons. More TSA tips are available at the TSA website.
  • Find the fastest checkpoint for your flight with the MIA QueueAnalyzer, available online at MIA’s mobile app and website, for real-time updates on security checkpoint wait times.
  • Avoid waiting in line to order food and drinks with MIA2GO, MIA’s mobile ordering service that lets you quickly browse menus, order and pay before making your contactless pick-up at restaurants throughout the airport.

Reminders from MIA:

  • Facial coverings continue to be required by the Federal Aviation Administration inside all U.S. airports.
  • Unruly passengers face civil penalties up to $45,000, being banned from flying, and potential federal prosecution.
  • FAA regulations direct airlines to not allow anyone to board their aircraft if that person appears to be intoxicated.
  • FAA regulations also prohibit drinking alcohol aboard a plane that is not served by the airline.
  • Miami-Dade Police will arrest and remove intoxicated individuals from MIA.
  • At the first sign of any unruly behavior, call Miami-Dade Police at 911.

Ted Scouten