McGhee Tyson Airport trying to prepare passengers for busy holiday travel

Local News

If you are going to be flying for Thanksgiving, get ready to battle crowds and long lines.

Airlines for America said this will likely be the busiest Thanksgiving ever for air travel, and the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority expects the same will be true at McGhee Tyson Airport.

“We’ll be flying into Panama City. We’ll be staying at Seacrest Beach,” said Diana McElhaney. She and her family are a few of a record breaking 30.6 million people expected to fly to their holiday destinations.

“The Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving, coming up in a couple of days, we’re expecting about a half million more passengers traveling nationwide. Now the Sunday after Thanksgiving, it actually goes to 2.7 million passengers is what our projections are,” said TSA Assistant Federal Security Director for East Tennessee Eddie McGaha,

The increase nationally can be partially attributed to historically low airfares according to Airlines for America.

McGhee Tyson Airport has already seen a 12 percent increase in passengers this year. The holiday season is expected to build on that.

“We’re hoping that we’re on our way to breaking a record this year and hopefully we’ll reach two million passengers by the end of this year,” said Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority Chairman Eddie Mannis.

With McGhee Tyson getting busier throughout the whole year they say sometimes the security lines can run about an hour long and even longer around the holidays, so they suggest signing up for TSA Pre-Check. It can get you around those lines and through security even faster.

“That’s because we’ve done a little bit of background check on you as a passenger, so because that threat level or the risk level is mitigated somewhat, you’re allowed to go through the checkpoint with some of those expediencies,” McGaha said.

For all passengers the airport authority suggests getting to McGhee Tyson at least two and a half hours early to make sure you have plenty of time to park, get checked in, get through security and to your gate.

Also expect Wednesday and Sunday to be the busiest days this week.

“The first year after I retired, we went back on Sunday because I really didn’t even think about it, and I got over that really fast,” McElhaney said.

TSA says another thing that can make sure you spend less time in line is to pack smart. Double check that you do not have any prohibited items in your baggage. You can use the MY TSA app or the “What can I bring?” tool on to find out more.

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