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Friday's preholiday travel breaks the record for the most airline travellers screened at U.S. airports

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ATLANTA -

A record was broken ahead of the Memorial Day weekend for the number of airline travellers screened at U.S. airports, the Transportation Security Administration said Saturday.

More than 2.9 million travellers were screened at U.S. airports on Friday, surpassing a previous record set last year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, according to the transportation security agency.

"Officers have set a new record for most travellers screened in a single day!" the TSA tweeted. "We recommend arriving early."

The third busiest day on record was set on Thursday when just under 2.9 million travellers were screened at U.S. airports.

In Atlanta, the world's busiest airport had its busiest day ever. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport broke a traffic record on Thursday when 111,000 passengers, airlines crew and airport employees were screened at security checkpoints. The second busiest day followed on Friday when 109,960 people were screened, according to the TSA.

With 104.6 million passengers, the Atlanta airport was the busiest in the world last year, according to Airports Council International.

U.S. airlines expect to carry a record number of passengers this summer. Their trade group estimates that 271 million travellers will fly between June 1 and August 31, breaking the record of 255 million set last summer.

AAA predicted this will be the busiest start-of-summer weekend in nearly 20 years, with 43.8 million people expected to roam at least 50 miles from home between Thursday and Monday -- 38 million of them taking vehicles.

The annual expression of wanderlust that accompanies the start of the summer travel season is happening at a time when Americans tell pollsters they are worried about the economy and the direction of the country.

In what had long been celebrated every May 30 to honour America's fallen soldiers, Memorial Day officially became a federal holiday in 1971, observed on the last Monday in May.

Jason Redman, a retired Navy SEAL who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, told The Associated Press last year that he honours the friends he's lost. Thirty names are tattooed on his arm "for every guy that I personally knew that died."

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