Atlanta airport security lines getting longer as more passengers travel

In addition to being in the terminal two hours early, travelers should allow extra time if they are parking, since some parking lots remain closed due to the pandemic and some lots that are open reach capacity during busy periods.

Parking and security aren’t the only pinch points at the airport. Lines for Southwest Airlines baggage check on Monday morning extended down a hallway inside the terminal, and a queue of travelers outside was waiting for Southwest’s curbside check-in.

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Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Business travelers have been slow to return to the skies, but more people are venturing out for vacations and trips to see family. Since many business travelers don’t check bags, an increased share of leisure travelers typically means more passengers checking baggage.

Compounding that, airlines have run into labor crunches causing staffing shortages.

“The labor shortage — it’s affecting every industry,” Bheodari said.

Travelers lined up on one side of an airport hallway for the North security checkpoint, while more lined up on the other side of the hallway for Southwest check-in and baggage check.

Travelers lined up on one side of an airport hallway for the North security checkpoint, while more lined up on the other side of the hallway for Southwest check-in and baggage check.

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Dallas-based Southwest said it is fully staffed at Hartsfield-Jackson with more than 600 employees, but acknowledged long wait times Monday morning. The airline said its leadership team at Hartsfield-Jackson “is aware of this morning’s issues and remains committed to meeting the demands of the peak travel times as the airline welcomes back additional customers this summer.”

While the signs in the terminal were not displaying security wait times Monday morning, the airport’s website lists them. Peak travel days are typically Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays. Big crowds are expected for Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the peak summer season.

ExploreAhead of Memorial Day, air travel from Atlanta getting busier

The airport on Sunday reopened its international park-ride deck, and the domestic side of the airport has a new ATL West deck connected to the terminal via SkyTrain. That’s an option for travelers particularly when economy lots are full, since the airport-run park-ride lots at the domestic terminal have not yet reopened. Airport officials are working on a plan for when to reopen those lots.

Airport officials advise travelers to check their bags for prohibited items before heading to the airport, particularly because many people haven’t traveled for more than a year and are rusty on the procedures. TSA officials have reported an increase in firearms caught at security checkpoints, many by travelers who say they forgot they had a gun in their bag.

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