Travelers brace as holiday travel rush returns to Reagan National

Sunday is expected to be one of the busiest travel days since the pandemic began and travelers are seeing the rush at Reagan National Airport. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

Sunday is expected to be one of the busiest travel days since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and travelers are seeing the rush at D.C.’s Reagan National Airport.

Not everyone flying is traveling for the holiday. Kristen flew to D.C. from Atlanta for business. Her advice after waiting in “ridiculous” lines at security checkpoints in Atlanta: “Get to the airport 15 hours early.”

“Thankfully, I had priority, so didn’t take me as long as I thought it was going to take — it was about 15 (or) 20 minutes. If I’d have had to have waited in the regular line with everybody else, I would have missed my flight,” Kristen said.



Travelers by air or road should plan for delays as the Transportation Security Administration expects hundreds of thousands to millions more will venture out this holiday season over last year. The AAA is predicting most road traffic to be in the afternoon.

Like other college students on Thanksgiving break, Matthew Rodriguez waited until Sunday to travel so he could maximize time spent at home with family.

“Show up early, those lines — they take forever,” Rodriguez, who is traveling back to college in Florida, told WTOP’s Luke Lukert. “I know I’ve been in those lines as long as one or two hours before.”

The WTOP Traffic Center reports that people might want to leave a little early as some of the areas where travelers are dropped off at the airports are crowded.

Air travel is up this year: The AAA projects more than 76,000 residents will fly, which is an 80% jump from 2020. But Thanksgiving air travel is still down 25% pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

WTOP’s Luke Lukert reported from Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C.

Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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