LAX holiday travelers peaking this weekend, though not back to 2019 levels

LAX holiday travelers peaking this weekend, though not back to 2019 levels

A prolonged holiday rush season is expected to hit a peak Sunday, with an estimated 214,000 travelers passing through Los Angeles International Airport.

That’s one of the busier days in a period from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3 in which the airport is expected to handle an average of about 200,000 arriving and departing passengers daily. The total number of travelers Sunday will roughly match the number Friday and the total expected on Dec. 23.

The bump in air travel will also be felt on the ground, with a 12% increase in vehicles circling LAX’s two-level “horseshoe” roadway during the holiday season.

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

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

Though the lower level is designated for arriving passengers and the upper level for those who are departing, airport officials advise that drivers are welcome to take the path of least resistance. If they see that the lower road is less crowded, for instance, they can drop departing flyers there.

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

While LAX may feel packed through the holidays, the number of flying passengers has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic high of 88 million passengers — the total achieved in 2019 when the airport was the third busiest in the world. Only Atlanta and Beijing accommodated more passengers that year.

The total for the airport in 2022 is expected to reach into the 60-million range.