ALCOA, Tenn. — The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest day for air travel, according to Airlines for America.

3.1 million passengers were expected to travel by plane on Sunday alone. Airports across the United States saw huge crowds and McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa is no different.

Often, the walk across the street is the easiest part of the holiday journey.

"I haven't gone past the gate yet so as long as they have some hot coffee I'll be fine," traveler Elizabeth Lopes said as she was heading to the TSA checkpoint.

The wait inside may take longer than the trip if you're not prepared, according to Becky Huckaby, a spokesperson for McGhee Tyson.

"With more people, there are expectations of longer lines at our checkpoints and at our ticket counters," Huckaby said.

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For the people returning home and waiting on luggage at the baggage claim, they're just happy to be back.

"It's been long, and changing time zones always has me confused but it's been good you know no complaints, haven't crashed yet," Peyton Cuccia said as he waited to grab his bag.

Connecting flights at some bigger airports saw weather delays.

"We were in Boston this morning and we connected in Charlotte, which was busy but not unbearable," Knoxville natives Karen and Pace Robinson explained.

Airlines.org said 31.6 million passengers were expected to take off this Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"We are seeing loads at over 90 percent full meaning that airplanes are really gonna be full coming in and out of our market for the holiday season," Huckaby said.

That's not surprising to travelers.

"A little more crowded at the airports of course but you know I mean what do you expect on a holiday like this," Cuccia laughed.

Passengers and airports agree arriving early is the key.

"If you give yourself plenty of time, then it should be a very easy travel season for you when you get here," Huckaby advised.

"We figured the earlier you leave the earlier you get home and you have time in case there was a problem," the Robinsons nodded.

The busy holiday travel times are expected to continue into Tuesday across the nations. McGhee Tyson recommends getting to the airport at least two hours early to make sure you catch your flight on time.

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