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Missoula airport gearing up for holiday rush

Posted at 2:54 PM, Nov 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-13 18:42:40-05

MISSOULA – Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and that means many are making plans to hit the roads and airways for a seasonal getaway.

The automotive group AAA is predicting that the 2018 holiday season will see the highest Thanksgiving volume in more than a dozen years thanks to higher wages, more disposable income and the rising levels of household wealth.

Also a plus, Missoula International Airport will have more options for booking flights.

“We have American airlines in our market, so non-stop service to Dallas. We have a larger aircraft in our market so a lot more availability for our customers which should translate to lower airfare,” Missoula International Airport Deputy Director Brian Ellestad said.

“It’ll be a record year for us once again — be near double-digit growth year after year. We’ll have over 800,000 passengers in and out of our airport this year,” he added.

AAA says 48.5 million people will hit the road for the upcoming holiday, 5% more than last year but with gas prices higher this year, drivers should expect to pay more at the pump.

As for flying, AAA believes 4.3 million travelers will take flight over Thanksgiving weekend adding that the average plane ticket will cost around $478.

It wouldn’t be a holiday trip without a little bump in the road as AAA is gearing up to rescue over 600 Montana motorists this holiday. They say dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires are the main reasons drivers call for help.

Airport officials also told MTN News that with unexpected twists and turns this year, folks should be prepared for longer wait times.

“I’d say always get here early! There’s a lot of construction here at the airport this, so I would take a little extra time and kind of explore — see what we’ve done!” Ellestad said. “There’ll be a restaurant now — post-security, so I think it’s actually a better customer service experience this year.

AAA also reports that folks who are renting a car this holiday season should see some savings with the average daily rate down 10% over last year.

-Katie Miller and Kent Luetzen reporting for MTN News