LAX vacationers peak this weekend, but no return to 2019 levels

By Jan. 3, Los Angeles International Airport is expected to handle an average of about 200,000 arriving and departing passengers per day, officials said. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

An extended peak holiday season is expected to peak on Sunday, with an estimated 214,000 travelers passing through Los Angeles International Airport.

It is one of the busiest days of the December 16 to January 3 period when the airport is expected to handle an average of around 200,000 arriving and departing passengers per day. The total number of travelers on Sunday will roughly match the number on Friday and the total expected on December 23.

The increase in air travel will also be felt on the ground, with a 12% increase in the number of vehicles traveling on LAX’s two-level horseshoe road during the holiday season.

“This weekend will be packed,” LAX spokesman Heath Montgomery said. “The horseshoe will be busy.”

Airport officials recommended that drivers check the @FlyLAXStats Twitter feed for regular updates on traffic loads on LAX’s upper and lower routes.

Although the lower level is designated for arriving passengers and the upper level for departing ones, airport officials advise drivers to take the path of least resistance. If they see that the lower road is less travelled, for example, they can drop off flyers there at the start.

On Saturday morning, there were times when @FlyLAXStats showed that the time to circle the lower airport road was five minutes, half the time to circle the upper level.

While LAX can feel crowded during the holidays, the number of flying passengers has yet to return to its pre-pandemic peak of 88 million passengers – the total reached in 2019 when the airport was the third busiest in the world. Only Atlanta and Beijing welcomed more passengers that year.

The airport’s total in 2022 is expected to reach 60 million.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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