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Expect record-breaking holiday crowds at airports; here are tips for navigating the lines

Flying during the upcoming holiday season? Brace yourself.

Flying during the upcoming holiday season? Brace yourself.

Airports haven’t gotten any larger in the past year, so expect large crowds and long lines if you’ve got air travel booked between Saturday and Jan. 1.

Almost 7 million Americans — which represents a roughly 5% increase year-over-year — are expected to fly this holiday season, according to AAA.

The busiest and quietest travel days this season are predicted to be Sunday — which is the Sunday before Christmas — and Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, respectively.

This trend of increased volume of travelers over the holidays isn’t new. In fact, according to Paula Twidale, Vice President of AAA Travel, “Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays.”

Unsurprisingly, the most popular destinations this holiday season include warm-weather spots like California, Florida and Hawaii, as well as Mexico and the Caribbean.

If you’re traveling this holiday season, we’ve got some tips to help you manage the congested terminals and long lines.

First, be sure to sign up for TPG’s free daily email newsletter. The newsletter is curated daily and features an expert-traveler approved tip of the day. Furthermore, make sure you’ve got lounge access to help you escape some of the busiest airport concourses. Many of our highly recommended credit cards include free access to top-notch lounges across the country.

Although it may be too late for this holiday season, get a head start on applying for TSA PreCheck and Clear. These programs are lifesavers when it comes to clearing airport security, especially when the terminals are filled with new travelers.

Be sure to check out the great piece put together by the head of family content at TPG, Summer Hull. She suggests going early, being strategic about packing (try to carry on luggage instead of checking), and consider shipping packages ahead of time.

RELATED: TSA PreCheck vs. Clear: Which one to get?

And finally, patience. Be sure to pack lots of it since the airports are going to be crowded.


This story was originally published on The Points Guy. Sign up for the TPG daily newsletter and wake up to unbeatable flight deals, travel industry news, and credit card bonuses that let you travel first-class to some of the world’s most incredible destinations at a fraction of the price.