MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you’re flying out of South Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday, be sure to get to the airport early and expect long lines.
Miami International Airport was busy Wednesday morning ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.READ MORE: Man Shot While Driving On I-75; FHP: At Least One Vehicle Shot At On S. Fla. Highways Every Week
Airport officials are expecting the travel volume to reach near pre-pandemic levels and they prepared for the rush.
Throughout the morning, they monitored the security lines and directed travelers to other checkpoints with shorter wait times.
The Robinson family got to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport two and a half hours before their flight.
“We’re going to Jamaica to visit family. We haven’t been there in over a year because of the pandemic,” said Britney Robinson.
She came well prepared will all her documents for covid protocols. She was through check-in and made it to security in 30 minutes. His brother, sister-in-law, and niece ran into a delay.
“We filled out the passport form incorrectly, so they would not let us through so we have to redo the whole form because we can not edit the form,” said Derran Robinson. It took them an hour to get through the check-in and to the TSA line. But since they arrived early — there were no problems.
The Transporation Security Administration also prepped for the uptick in holiday travel by making an exception on the size of hand sanitizer
“TSA is allowing people to bring up to one 12-ounce container of hand sanitizer through the checkpoint, that is larger than the typical amount of liquids, gels, or aerosols,” said spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
Airport officials recommend that travelers arrive two hours and 30 minutes before their departure time, instead of the usual two hours. You can get real-time TSA wait times by downloading MIA’s app.READ MORE: Black Friday Shoppers Out Early Hoping To Score Deals
CBS4 News spoke to travelers who were surprised by the long lines.
“I couldn’t catch my next flight for the connection in time,” said Mr. Mougnol who spent the night at the airport after missing his connecting flight.
“I came last night, that’s my bed here,” he jokingly as he pointed to a corner in the airport.
Many travelers, like Mougnol, arrived at the airport two hours prior to their flight’s departure time, but still ended up cutting it too close.
“It’s been very busy, very busy. I wasn’t expecting it to be this busy. I was hoping it was going to be a little slower so that we could cruise through these big lines here at TSA,” said Jeff Grant, who was traveling back home to Tallahassee on Wednesday for Thanksgiving.
At both South Florida airports parking is scarce.
MIA tweeted that their garages are full. At FLL two of the three are pretty packed. You can see real-time parking information and where spaces are available on their app.
According to airport officials, MIA is ahead of travel projections so far this week. On Wednesday alone they are expecting close to 140,000 passengers. The busiest day will be the Sunday after Thanksgiving when 160,000 people are expected to pass through MIA.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is expecting approximately 604,000 travelers to pass through their terminals over the seven-day Thanksgiving holiday travel period which ends next Monday.
If that holds true, it would be a 26 percent increase in passengers over the same seven-day period last year. However, it would be a 25 percent decrease compared with pre-pandemic traffic in 2019.MORE NEWS: Day Before Thanksgiving Sets TSA Pandemic Travel Record
The busiest travel days at the airport will be Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.