Passengers report no travel impact at Spokane airport because of shutdown, different story elsewhere

Passengers report no travel impact at Spokane airport because of shutdown, different story elsewhere

With the partial government shutdown leaving TSA agents and air traffic controllers working unpaid, nationwide many have called in sick, some forced to find other means of putting food on their tables and paying rent prompting security line delays.

“Seattle has been pretty rough, the lines are wrapped everywhere, they’ve only got a few of their gates open,” said traveler Megan Loney, “my friend was flying internationally today, and she happened to miss her flight, and she got there the full two hours early”

For those TSA sticking out the D.C. politics, she has this message.

“I couldn’t do my job without them, so I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” she says, as a frequent traveler.

She notes that its the same story at many of the major airports she has flown in to like Chicago, but said Spokane seems to be making it through unscathed.

Other passengers, hoping the shutdown ends quickly.

“Hopefully it won’t go on for much longer, but time will tell,” said Michael Williams.

According to airport officials, passengers may have noticed busier security lines starting about 18 months ago. The Spokane International Airport hit a record year in 2018, with nearly 4 million passengers in and out of Spokane.

“We have seen a big increase in the aircraft that operate out of here, the number of seats provided and the number of services,” said the airports Director of Public Relations Todd Woodard.

He points to factors such as Frontier returning to the Spokane market last year, Southwest and Delta adding flights, and an overall growing economy as reasons behind the record numbers.

The growth prompted several new crowd control efforts, such as the hiring of new purple coated assistants stationed in front of security lines to help passengers be more efficient.

“If they are pre-check traveling, they will make sure they are in the right pre-check line, that the airline they are traveling on is served by the concourse, because sometimes passengers get mixed up,” he said.

They may also remind you that you need to take off heavy jackets, and to dump out water before going through the check point.

“Its little things like that, which help with through put,” he said.

He notes the airport has also added new economy parking and new kiosks that let you know when shuttles are running.

Looking into 2019, he says there will be growth, but that it will likely be a cooling off year as airlines adjust their offerings.

For example, in January of 2019, there will be roughly 189,000 inbound seats to Spokane, that is roughly 10,000 more than 2018.

In February there will also be added seats, but in March the numbers stay roughly the same.

April, May and June will see slight declines in the amount of seats offered, but still well above what there were in 2016 and 2017.

The 2018 record accounted for a more than 12 percent spike in travelers from the previous year.

Woodard advises showing up to the Spokane International Airport at least 90 minutes prior to your boarding time.

That may differ at larger airports, and passengers advise at those more impacted by the government shutdown to allow extra time on top of the recommendations.

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