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Holiday travel tips: JWA prepares for increased passenger traffic and historic year of air travel

2023 has been a historic year for travel nationwide and John Wayne Airport (JWA) has experienced unprecedented higher passenger numbers. The rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic gained momentum and has continued climbing throughout the year.

The significant increase in air travel at JWA in 2023 is likely to have implications for the 11.8 million annual passengers (MAP) limit, a critical regulatory measure in place to manage airport operations and their effects on the surrounding community.

Passengers traveling through JWA during the upcoming holidays can expect increased passenger traffic and busier roadways. The airport recommends that travelers be prepared and use the following holiday air travel tips.

Holiday travel tips aerial view

Click on photo for a large image

Courtesy of JWA

Passengers traveling through JWA during the upcoming holidays can expect increased passenger traffic and busier roadways


–Passengers are encouraged to arrive 90 minutes to two hours before scheduled departure times for domestic flights and three hours for international flights to find parking, check luggage and go through security screening.


–Curbside Valet Parking is available on the Departure (upper) Level curbside from 5 a.m.-8 p.m. On your return, call 949.252.6260, or 2-4018 from any White Courtesy phone for faster service.

–Parking Structures A1, A2, B2 and C are located directly across from the Riley Terminal at a rate of $2/hour up to $20/day. Travelers can plan by checking real-time parking availability online, or by calling 949.252.5200. Vehicle access to Terminal Parking Structures is available from the Departure (upper) Level only.

–Electric Vehicle (EV) parking spots are located on Level 1 inside Terminal Parking Structures A, B, and C and on Level 2 in Parking Structure A. Charging stations can quickly be identified by the EV reflective signage and parking space surface markings.

Security Checkpoints

–Know the Transportation Security Administration’s 3-1-1 Liquid Rules for carry-on bags. Traveling with food tip: If you can spill it, spread it, pump it, or pour it, the TSA considers this item a liquid. View more TSA Thanksgiving travel tips and or a list of frequently asked TSA questions.

–Passengers wearing face coverings during the TSA screening process may be asked to adjust them to confirm identity.

–Enroll in TSA Pre✓® to expedite screening and reduce touchpoints.

–There are specific rules and exceptions for passengers traveling with infant care items. Visit TSA Tips for Traveling with Children for more information.

Passenger Pick-Up/Drop-Off

–Temporarily park your car for free at the JWA Cell Phone Waiting Lot located south of Parking Structure C near the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Campus Drive, where visitors can wait until passengers are ready to be picked up.

–Color-coded and numbered columns along the white curb on the Arrival (lower) Level roadway make meeting arriving passengers easy.

App-Based Rideshare Uber, Lyft and Wingz

–Arriving guests should be aware of ride app pick-up locations on the Departure (upper) Level in Parking Structures A2 and B2 directly across from the Riley Terminal and in Parking Structure C on Level 3 next to the Southwest ticketing area. Ride app drop-off locations are curbside on the Departure Level.

Effects of Increased Air Travel

With the airport experiencing a notable surge in passenger volume, it’s essential to also consider the following effects on the MAP limit in compliance with the Settlement Agreement.

MAP Limit: The continued growth in passenger numbers in 2023 brings John Wayne Airport closer to reaching its MAP limit. The Settlement Agreement sets a limit on the number of annual passengers to maintain a balance between the demand for air travel and the noise and environmental concerns of our community. As passenger numbers approach this limit, the airport continues to monitor it closely to ensure compliance.

Operational Challenges: Nearing the MAP limit creates operational challenges, including restrictions on flight bookings and availability. It requires the Airport and airlines to adjust their plans to stay within the limits.

For more travel tips and additional information about John Wayne Airport visit

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