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Memphis International Airport offers travel tips for Thanksgiving week

MEM B Ticketing Lobby

Airport expects busiest holiday week since 2007

MEMPHIS, TN (November 21, 2019) – With record passenger numbers expected across North America during Thanksgiving week, Memphis International Airport (MEM) is offering tips for holiday travelers.

Between Friday, November 22 and Monday, December 2, approximately 170,000 passengers are expected to arrive at or depart from MEM, an increase of 5% compared to 2018. With most aircraft expected to be close to 100% capacity, MEM is expecting its busiest Thanksgiving travel period since 2007. The peak day is expected to be Sunday, Dec. 1, when TSA projects 11,300 passengers and employees to pass through the checkpoint.

Airlines, airport vendors and TSA will make appropriate adjustments to their staffing and schedules in order to accommodate the increased traffic. While the early morning hours between 4-7 am generally have the heaviest traffic at MEM, afternoon and evening traffic will also experience significant increases during peak days.

Here are some things to remember for Thanksgiving passengers.

Arrive Early

  • MEM is recommending that travelers arrive at the airport at least two hours before their departure time to ensure that they have plenty of time to park, check luggage and go through the security checkpoint.
  • Passengers should check frequently with their airlines to monitor schedule changes. Airlines handle all aspects of ticketing, baggage and scheduling.

Know What You Can and Can’t Bring Through Security

  • In order to expedite security screening time, passengers should double-check carry-on bags and review the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) list of prohibited items.
  • More holiday TSA travel tips can be found here.


  • MEM’s economy, long-term and short-term parking areas may periodically reach capacity during the week.
  • Additional signage will be added, and additional parking staff will help direct drivers to available parking spots.
  • MEM is prepared to activate two overflow parking areas should the existing garages reach capacity. See the attached map for the locations of the yellow and blue overflow lots.
  • For convenience, passengers parking in the overflow lots are encouraged to drop off other passengers and luggage at the curb before parking.
  • Drivers who are waiting to pick up arriving passengers can save time by utilizing one of the more than 200 spaces in the airport’s cell phone lot, which is equipped with a flight information board and free Wi-Fi.

Expected peak days (projected daily checkpoint throughputs in parenthesis):

  • Friday, November 22 (9,900)
  • Wednesday, November 27 (9,400)
  • Sunday, December 1 (11,300)

Other busy days will include:

  • Saturday, November 30 (8,500)
  • Monday, December 2 (8,900)