Philly air travelers warned about lines, delays — and keeping carry-on presents unwrapped

People line up for a TSA checkpoint at an airport

Travelers queue up at the south security checkpoint as traffic increases with the approach of the Thanksgiving Day holiday Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at Denver International Airport in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Philadelphia International Airport officials estimate just under 1 million people will come through during the holidays, and that could create some delays for travelers.

“Our busiest days will be the day after Christmas, Monday after Christmas, Dec. 27, and then Wednesday, Dec. 29 as people are either coming back from visiting family for the holiday or if they’re heading out for a vacation after the holiday,” said airport spokesperson Heather Redfern.

Travelers are advised to plan ahead, including booking a parking space, and to expect delays.

“We are reminding people to arrive at least three hours early,” Redfern said. “It will be crowded, especially if they haven’t flown since the start of the pandemic or if they’ve flown, and it wasn’t that busy yet.”

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While the number of passengers has declined since the pandemic began, the airport is starting to see an uptick, said Redfern.

“We’re still down from where we were in 2019, but we are probably about 50% higher than what we were last year — definitely a little bit busier than Thanksgiving was,” she said.

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Redfern suggests people ask friends to drive them to the airport, take a rideshare or SEPTA, which has service right to the terminals. She also recommends using the cell phone waiting lot, located less than one minute from the arrivals terminal for people picking up passengers.

Face masks are required to be worn by all passengers ages 2 and up inside PHL and on all planes.

Finally, if you are bringing presents, they cannot be wrapped if they are being carried on the plane. If a present gets unwrapped at the checkpoint, travelers are able to take the gift to the Terminals B/C Connector with their TSA assigned voucher to have it re-wrapped.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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