About 3,000 people a day fly into and out of Missoula International Airport during the peak of the holiday season each year, but the worsening COVID-19 pandemic ensures this year will be different.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging Americans to not travel over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Missoula International Airport Director Cris Jensen says this means the usual bustle that comes with what is typically the busiest travel week of the year will have a much different feel.
“With the airlines allowing people to change their travel plans on fairly short notice, we expect this might be a fairly quiet week for us,” Jensen told MTN News.
Airline travel in and out of Missoula has seen a bump in recent weeks, running about at about 50% of normal, which is well above the national average of 33%.
Jensen says he expects to maintain that 50% of normal this week, and adds there are perks for those who are traveling.
“Our parking lot will be less full, I guess that’s more convenient for people, and the lines will be shorter,” Jensen said.
Jensen added that for those who are choosing to fly in the coming days, sanitization has never been a higher priority than it is right now.
“I would tell you that the airports have never been cleaner, the airplanes have never been cleaner,” Jensen explained. “If somebody’s comfortable going to the grocery store, I would tell you that I feel like an airport is probably even safer than that.”
Jensen noted that he and his staff are ready for whatever the upcoming week brings, “if people do choose to fly, we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure it’s a safe experience.”
Jensen is also urging anyone with questions or concerns to visit the Missoula International Airport website.