Atlanta airport international flyers surpass pre-Pandemic numbers

ATLANTA - U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers process thousands of international arriving passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport every day. In the last six months, that number has steadily grown.

After international flights, the CBP arrivals area is the first stop for travelers at the world’s busiest airport.

"Where did you guys just come in from," FOX 5 asked passengers.

"We just came in from Cancún, Mexico," responded Carl Braxton. "Went there for four days, taking my sons for spring break."

The Braxton four are just some of the roughly 18 to 25 thousand people CBP says it processes every day at ATL.

Since October, the number of international arriving passengers has soared 23%.

"We stopped speaking about pre-pandemic numbers because we've surpassed those numbers already," said Carlo Cortina, CBP’s Atlanta Assistant Port Director.

Cortina says vacationers are driving the increase.

"As we learned during the pandemic, a lot of the business travel lessened because of remote work, Zoom and Teams," he said. "So we're seeing that leisure is up in comparison to years past."

Despite the higher volume thanks to extra flights and new airlines, the agency says wait times are holding steady. Passengers are finding technology and apps like Mobile Passport Control and the Global Entry Trusted Traveler program are helping them save time.

"We’re leveraging technology and innovation in order to facilitate travel for all of these carriers and create a customer experience that is enjoyable while maintaining our national security," Cortina said.

For passengers, the process was better than expected.

"There actually wasn’t a line, we were able to kind of just go straight through," said Haashim Alexander.

"This is the first time we've taken our boys with us out of the country, and we were expecting them to experience what we thought was the real experience, but it was really smooth," Braxton said.

This increase is not expected to slow down anytime soon, CBP says it is planning for a busy spring break and summer ahead.