What Delta Air Lines is doing to keep flyers on time during busy summer travel season

PHOTO: A Delta jet awaits pushback from a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. PlayABC News
WATCH How one airline is helping to shave seconds to help stay on time

The end of a long week may sound like the perfect time to kick back and relax, but for those working at airlines across the country, the end of the week means some of the busiest travel days, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

The Friday before Independence Day was the busiest travel day of 2018. More than 2.67 million travelers and crew members screened at checkpoints across the nation, making it the second busiest travel day in TSA's history.

And eight of the top 12 busiest travel days since TSA was established in 2001 have taken place this year, according to the agency.

“It’s safe to say that every day this summer of 2018 is like Thanksgiving travel in terms of the number of passengers and crew who are coming through checkpoints,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein told ABC News. “It’s been incredible.”

Carriers like Delta Air Lines are taking steps to reduce different types of delay that can be caused during departure as airports try to manage the increasing number of travelers in the summer.

PHOTO: If a bag is at risk of missing a connection, it is designated a hot bag. Handlers like these find the bags and race them to their next flight. ABC News
If a bag is at risk of missing a connection, it is designated a "hot" bag. Handlers like these find the bags and race them to their next flight.

One of these changes is the way in which aircraft are pushed back for takeoff. Often when a plane departs from the gate, it is pushed straight back and then turned onto a taxiway. Recently, Delta has begun cutting the corner. The aircraft is pushed out at a 45 degree angle; shaving seconds off the time it takes to reach the taxiway. This maneuver enables pilots to start their engines earlier, saving up to a minute before takeoff.

In addition, Delta now designates checked bags of travelers attempting a tight connection as "hot bags," prioritizing the flagged luggage to move faster to its destination.

PHOTO: A Delta jet gets pushed back at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Airplanes there get pushed back at a 45-degree angle to speed up departure. ABC News
A Delta jet gets pushed back at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Airplanes there get pushed back at a 45-degree angle to speed up departure.

These techniques can save seconds, even minutes, in departures, reducing any delay customers may face. All this is done to improve the customer experience and avoid costly delays for the airline.

“If we make customer-based decisions, if we’ve got the customer uppermost in our mind, then we’re going to make the right decisions,” Senior Vice President for Delta’s Operations and Customer Center Dave Holtz told ABC News.

As the airlines do their part, what can flyers do on their end to speed up travel time?

TSA’s top travel tip is to arrive at the airport early. For flights out of a major airport, travelers should plan to arrive two hours early for domestic flights and three hours prior for international flights.

“With such high numbers of travelers, it may take longer to find a parking spot or to return a car rental, to check a bag, to visit the restroom, to wait in line for a latte, and yes, it may take longer at a checkpoint as well,” Farbstein said.

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