SEATAC, Wash. — Fifty-five million Americans are traveling for Thanksgiving nationwide, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Wednesday will likely be the busiest travel day since the start of the pandemic.
About 155,000 passengers are expected to travel through Sea-Tac International Airport.
The lines at some security checkpoints reached 40-minute wait times Wednesday morning.
Some passengers are traveling for the first time since the pandemic started.
“I was not expecting it to be this crowded inside the airport," said Alexander Hunter. "I’ve never seen it this crowded."
Hunter is from Tacoma but traveling to Las Vegas to spend Thanksgiving with friends.
He got to the airport an hour before his flight not realizing how busy it would be.
“If you're leaving for your flight, leave early," Hunter said. "Get here as early as possible."
The weekend after Labor Day lines stretched from security checkpoints all the way into the parking garage.
The airport called the situation unusual and noted that throughout the year 91% of passengers got through security in 30 minutes or less.
The airport added staff over the past year to help with the increase in travelers.
Perry Cooper, a spokesperson for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said TSA brought in extra staff through the holiday to prevent a situation like what happened after Labor Day. Cooper said, however, that travelers should still be prepared to wait longer than that typical 30 minutes.
“You’d rather get here early with that in mind than maybe you have to do a 45-minute wait in the morning so that you get through ahead of time instead of standing inside a line and you’re only 30 minutes away from your flight actually taking off,” Cooper said.