Post-Christmas rush: PHL to see busiest air travel day of the holidays Tuesday

Wednesday, December 27, 2023
Post-Christmas rush: PHL to see busiest air travel day of the holidays Tuesday
Post-Christmas rush: PHL to see busiest air travel day of the holidays Tuesday

PHILADEPHIA (WPVI) -- Many people are going back home now that Christmas is over, but those crowds will be mixed with those who are looking to travel during this extended holiday period leading into the new year.

Travel experts say the number of travelers has increased with every major holiday this year, breaking a record just about every time.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, roughly 170,000 people are expected to pass through Philadelphia International Airport, with Tuesday expected to be the busiest of the Christmas and New Year travel period.

"People have already celebrated the holiday, they want to go on vacation, kids are off from school, businesses might be closed," said PHL spokesperson Heather Redfern. "Pack your patience. You have people who don't fly a lot during the year. This is the big time of year where a lot of non-regular flyers are. Just be more patient with people that have kids with them and everybody will get where they need to go."

Time will tell if crowds will break records set in 2019, however, so far, travelers at PHL said they are pleasantly surprised with how smooth the morning has gone.

"Anybody watching this: wake up two to three hours earlier and get prepared. That's how it was smooth for me. I didn't have any issues at all," said Jonathan Donatien, from North Carolina.

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"This is almost like a joke. I can't believe this, usually the line is an eighth of a mile that way," said Bill Buhart, of West Philadelphia.

"Pretty smooth. Much better than I thought it would be," added Gail Millsaps, from Nashville.

One woman heading back home to Philadelphia from Chicago said she had one delay, but it didn't impact her too much.

"Our flight was delayed two minutes," Anne Odland from Warrington laughed. "Everything was seamless, we traveled Thursday, no lines anywhere. Today it was pretty awesome too."

Although TSA has got everybody moving, but you don't want the added stress to your holiday travel.

Travel experts say the number of travelers will be very close to breaking the record, so expect a lot of company along the way.

"No delays. Glad I got my status to get past all the craziness and ready to go home now," said Anthony Parrish, from Atlanta.

However, baggage check was a little jammed up as people packed up their new presents and headed for the skies.

"I see the bag drop line is a little long here," said Jonathan Donatien, North Carolina. "I'm going to take advantage of it, that's why I came early."

To keep the lines moving and to help prevent delays when checking in, Redfern suggests making sure you're not packing items that are not allowed.

Things to keep in mind include:

  • Liquids and gels are typically limited to 3.4 ounces or smaller.
  • TSA officials say you are allowed to take solid food items like bread and candy, but might be asked to separate them to help with screening.

"Check the TSA's website before you get here for what you can and can't bring in your carry-on luggage. A lot of people like to carry food this time of year. Liquids are limited to a certain amount, so just check with them before you get here. You don't want to hold up the line and you don't want to be held up," Redfern said.

Big crowds are anticipated through January 3.

Meanwhile, at 30th Street Station, train passengers can relax and leave the stress to people taking other modes of transportation.

The Lawsons are heading home to Richmond, Virginia. Although their train was delayed by an hour, they were happy to avoid traffic.

"I-95 is so terrible for driving. We love the train. We always go to the quiet car and it's very peaceful, it's lovely," said Gigi Lawson.

It seems the quiet car is the way to go.

"What do you like about being on the train?" we asked.

"You get to sleep," replied 12-year-old Prudence.

The only headache travelers had Tuesday night was the traffic driving to and from 30th Street Station.

Some travelers had tips to make the traffic bearable, however.

"We listened to Bluetooth, my favorite song on Bluetooth was Bells by Matalica," said Alex Myers from Lancaster.