My Surprisingly Smooth Memorial Day Airport Adventure

by joeheg

If you were set to fly over Memorial Day Weekend, you were warned about how busy the airports would be. Orlando International Airport was estimating record numbers, with the most passengers scheduled to fly on Memorial Day itself, May 27th.

Friday lived up to expectations. The TSA reported it was the busiest day on record at security checkpoints. Of course, I was set to fly on Monday, which was scheduled to be a busier day than Friday. Even though I wouldn’t be checking a bag and had CLEAR and TSA Precheck, I got to the airport extra early because I didn’t know if there would be traffic when taking the shuttle from my off-airport parking lot or a mob scene at the security line.

Flying on Memorial Day

I parked my car and took the shuttle to the airport. The first thing I noticed was a lack of traffic. While the bus occasionally had to fight to find a place to drop off passengers, we drove right to the curb. I thought this was odd for what was supposed to be one of the busiest days of the year.

It wasn’t that I was leaving super early. That doesn’t matter in Orlando, as we’ve encountered huge lines at 6 a.m. But the airport was uncannily empty for 10 AM.

Walking from one side of the airport to the other, almost all the benches were empty. On a busy day, they’re full of passengers waiting for flights.

a large airport terminal with blue chairs and tables

You know something is up when there’s no line for a Chick-fil-A in the South.

people standing in front of a food court

Wait times at the TSA Checkpoints were as short as we’ve ever seen, with a max of 15 minutes.

a screen with a blue and yellow text

My trip to Las Vegas, with a connection in Austin, TX, was uneventful. I walked right up to the CLEAR checkpoint in Orlando with one person in front of me in line. I was through TSA in five minutes. The American Admirals Clubs in both airports were busy, but there wasn’t a wait to enter either location, and it wasn’t hard to find a seat.

It wasn’t until I reached Las Vegas that I started to see signs of how busy airports were on Memorial Day. At 5 PM, the line to enter the AMEX Centurion Lounge stretched past the Blue Wall, which is quite the wait.

a group of people standing in a line

Final Thought

When I saw pictures of how busy airports were on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, I was dreading flying on Monday, which was supposed to be even busier. I guess I lucked out because families don’t fly to Orlando for just the weekend; many of them were spending the week, leaving the airport unusually quiet for a Monday morning. It wasn’t until I reached my destination and saw everyone wanting to fly home from Las Vegas, before work started again on Tuesday, that I got a clue of how busy airports were over the weekend.

Just goes to show that it all depends on where you are and when you’re flying as to whether you’ll find an empty airport or lines everywhere.

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