Orlando International Airport experiences 2nd busiest travel day this holiday season

Sunday is expected to be the second busiest travel day at Orlando International Airport this holiday season.

Over the holiday weekend, over 304,000 people total are expected to pass through the airport. Nearly 150,000 are expected Sunday alone. That is just 20,000 shy of travelers on this weekend in 2019 — pre-pandemic.

Airport staff says that more passengers also means more traffic on the roads around the airport and more cars in the parking garages. They encourage drivers to use free cellphone lots when picking up passengers. For safety and security, drivers are asked to not stop or park along roadsides as well.

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Wait times are also top of mind as people arrive at Orlando International Airport. Those traveling are recommended to arrive early and pack patience.

FOX 35 was there Sunday morning and observed waits up to 40 minutes long.

"It's the holidays," explained passenger Iquasha Hayes. "So it's not surprising, but I don't like it!"

We did get a notification last night saying there's going to be a lot of crowds," said Shishir Devagiri. "And we were expecting this so we woke up early to make it to our gates."

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"During the pandemic, there was this sense they could come into the airport and they didn't have to be here two hours early because it was not that busy," Chief of Airport Operations Tom Draper said. "That time is gone, we're back to pre-pandemic, you need to be here two hours early."

"We've tried to bring on as much staffing as we can, and the staffing we have will be working over to cover the holidays and as many areas as we possibly can but there could be delays," Draper added.

Altogether, more than 1.6 million passengers are expected to pass through Orlando International Airport during the 12 day Thanksgiving travel period. That is just 2.5 percent fewer than the record number of travelers the airport had in 2019.

Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.