Spokane International Airport is anticipating an increase in passengers this holiday season, mirroring a nationwide projection that air travel will increase 3% compared to last year.
Airport officials are expecting about 12,000 passengers per day to fly in and out of Spokane International from Dec. 19 to Jan. 2. It’s believed more than 13,750 passengers will travel through the airport on Dec. 28 – its busiest day during the holiday season.
The lightest travel days will be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, according to airport data.
The airport is projecting close to a 1% increase in passengers in December, compared to a year December 2018. Passenger traffic in January is projected to increase 4% over the same time last year.
The addition of more nonstop routes out of Spokane International is contributing, in part, to an increase in passengers, airport spokesman Todd Woodard said.
This year, Alaska Airlines added nonstop service to Paine Field in Everett, and United Airlines launched nonstop service to Houston. Alaska Airlines also is adding nonstop routes from Spokane to Los Angeles and San Francisco early next year.
Woodard advises travelers to arrive at the airport a minimum of 90 minutes prior to their flight’s boarding time and refrain from packing wrapped gifts in carry-on luggage.
“If a TSA inspector can not discern what is in the box, they are going to open the package,” he said, adding passengers are allowed to bring wrapped gifts in checked baggage.
Passenger traffic at Spokane International has gradually increased every year since 2013, with a record of nearly 4 million passengers traveling through the facility last year.
In anticipation of an increase in passengers this year, the airport added 500 parking spaces to its economy lot, in addition to 1,400 spaces added last year.
Nationwide, airlines expect 47.5 million people will travel during the 18-day holiday season from Dec. 19 to Jan. 5, according to Airlines for America, a trade group representing major North American airlines.
“Throughout this year, we’ve seen steady gains in air travel demand, and this winter will be no exception,” John Heimlich, vice president and chief economist for Airlines for America, said in a news release. “Buoyed by a healthy economy and plentiful, affordable air service, travelers once again are expected to take to the skies in record numbers.”
The busiest days for air travel are expected to be Friday and Saturday before Christmas and the Thursday and Friday after Christmas, which is on Wednesday this year.
More than 2.8 million travelers passed through TSA security checkpoints nationwide Dec. 1, making it the busiest day in the 18-year history of the agency, according to a news release.
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