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Denver International Airport sees lower-than-expected passenger traffic over Thanksgiving holiday week



If you were traveling through Denver International Airport over the holiday week and thought things weren’t as busy as you expected, you were correct in your observation. 

Travelers at Denver International Airport during the Thanksgiving travel period last week.


Airport officials released the Transportation Security Administration’s checkpoint numbers to CBS News Colorado on Tuesday and they showed lower daily numbers flowing through the security screening areas than what was forecasted.

On Thanksgiving the TSA forecasted 36,924 checkpoint screenings and the actual number wound up being 36,645. Then the numbers on the three following days were as follows:

Forecasted TSA numbers
Nov. 24 – 55,801 checkpoint screenings
Nov. 25 – 74,772
Nov. 26 – 86,111

Actual TSA Checkpoint numbers
Nov. 24 – 52,328
Nov. 25 – 70,924
Nov. 26 – 81,328

A winter storm that brought snow to Denver as well as Chicago led to delays of several hundred flights, but overall travel was relatively smooth for travelers in and out of Colorado’s airport.

Airlines were eager to avoid the meltdowns that marred travel last December, when severe winter storms knocked out thousands of flights and left millions of passengers stranded.

Southwest, which canceled nearly 17,000 flights last year, said it purchased additional deicing trucks and updated its crew-scheduling technology. The airline was under particular scrutiny; the government recently threatened to fine Southwest for failing to provide enough help to passengers who were stranded last year.

The government also stepped up operations, hiring more air traffic controllers and opening new air routes along the East Coast ahead of the holiday travel season, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said last week.

Brett Snyder, president of the airline industry blog Cranky Flier, said Thanksgiving was a “remarkably good weekend for the country’s airlines.” Between Tuesday and Sunday, no airlines canceled more than 1% of their flights, he said.

Snyder said airlines have figured out that they need to increase staff ahead of the holidays. But mild weather in most of the country also helped, he said.

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