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TSA expects record crowds for spring break

By Dana Forsythe
With spring break travel season starting on Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration today advised travelers to expect major crowds -- especially at Miami and Orlando airports. File Photo by Alonso Cupul/EPA
With spring break travel season starting on Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration today advised travelers to expect major crowds -- especially at Miami and Orlando airports. File Photo by Alonso Cupul/EPA

March 6 (UPI) -- With spring break travel season starting on Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration advised travelers to expect major crowds -- especially at Miami and Orlando airports.

According to the TSA, the busy peak spring break travel season continues through March 25.

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In a statement Wednesday, TSA administrator David Pekoske said the agency screened a record number of passengers in 2023 and expects the trend to continue.

"So far in 2024, travel volumes are trending at nearly 6% above the same period in 2023. We always work closely with our airline and airport partners to plan for and meet the increasing travel demand while doing our best to maintain our wait times of 30 minutes or less in standard lanes and 10 minutes or less in TSA PreCheck lanes" Pekoske said.

AAA Travel booking data shows Florida remains most popular destination. In addition to hundreds of beaches along both coasts, the state boasts family-friendly attractions and many of the country's cruise ports.

"Orlando is the top choice for Spring Break travelers, while Fort Lauderdale and Miami are the two most popular domestic cruise ports," Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel said.

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According to newly gathered data, AAA Travel said it saw a 28% increase in cruise bookings for March and April compared to last year, and a 60% increase for cruises departing from South Florida.

Orlando International Airport expects an 11% increase in passengers from spring break 2023.

"We expect to set a new spring break benchmark with more than 7.6 million passengers," said Kevin J. Thibault, chief executive officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. "This growth is actually a continuation of what we saw in 2023. For the year, we shattered all passenger records with more than 57.7 million travelers."

Miami International Airport, which reached an all-time high number of passengers in January and February, is expecting its busiest spring break crowds ever. Those months it had an average of nearly 150,000 travelers per day.

Miami Beach recently placed a number of restrictions targeting spring-breakers visiting the area in March, including banning of alcohol consumption in public and smoking on beaches or in parks. Large tents, coolers and loud music has also been prohibited on the beach, lasting every Thursday through Sunday in March.

To ease travel and reduce wait times, the TSA is asking travelers to start with an empty bag to avoid packing any prohibited items. The TSA recommends passengers to be "checkpoint ready" and bring a valid ID,

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"Spring break travelers should give themselves plenty of time to account for traffic, parking, rental car returns, airline check-in, security screening and making any airport purchases before boarding a flight," a TSA statement reads.

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