Flight Blog

 

The federal government shutdown hasn’t had a significant impact on security checkpoint wait times at our airport — not yet.

In the past few days, the folks who run airport checkpoints (TSA) report that about 7% of the national work force hasn’t shown up for work. Compare that to 3% last year. Presumably, the uptick is due to workers not showing up because they’re not being paid.

With twice as many workers absent it seems logical that checkpoint wait times should go up dramatically. But so far, they really haven’t. Why? Probably this: at most North American airports January is the slowest month of the year. When I say slow, I mean fewer people are flying.

 

 

At our airport January passengers numbers are less than half what they are during the busiest month of the year, which is June.

Bottom line: we haven’t seen checkpoint slowdowns yet because it’s the slowest time of the year.

This doesn’t mean long lines won’t eventually form; it’s a matter of time. How long will the shutdown last — will it run into the busy time of the year? How long will TSA employees show up without a pay check? How long can they afford to show up?

Think about all that if you’re flying during the shutdown. Take a long look at the TSA folks in the checkpoint. And thank them.

And think about the workers at the Federal Aviation Administration. They staff the control towers at airports; they direct air traffic in the sky.

And let’s not forget the National Weather Service. Its weather forecasts help guide pilots through weather’s uncertainty.

And finally …

If you know a federal worker make sure they know about a loan program announced on Monday by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Multipli Credit Union. Federal workers who live or work in Christian, Dade, Dallas, Greene, Lawrence, Polk and Webster counties are eligible for the loan program.

Click here for more information about the loan program.
 


 

Sometime this week the 1-millionth passenger of the year will use the Springfield Airport. It’s the first time in history that that many people have used the airport is a single year. Civic leaders and airport customers gathered at the airport Thursday morning to celebrate.

While we don’t know with absolute certainty that the millionth passenger of the year was here today, we know we're pretty close. The math department at Missouri State University did a statistical analysis. They narrowed it down to this week; then we picked a day to celebrate. We want to thank the community for making this day possible!

 

Members of the media photograph the flight arriving with the millionth passenger.

 

A million passengers a year is a milestone not only for the airport, but for the community. It’s a symptom of a growing region, and a strong local economy — since 2013 our passenger numbers have grown 40%.

Nationwide, air passenger growth will increase about 5.5% in 2018. Here in Springfield we'll be almost double that rate. By year's end we expect the total passenger count to be in the neighborhood of 1,063,000. We want to thank everyone for flying Springfield!
 

Who is the millionth passenger? We don't know for sure, but it's likely one of these people getting off American Airlines 3887.

 


 

Please forgive what we’re about to do; we need to administer some tough love.


On this, the first day of the summer travel season, we’ve got advice for everyone who flies from Springfield: arrive at this airport AT LEAST TWO HOURS before your flight’s scheduled departure time. If you get here at the last possible minute, you may get burned.

We know, you don’t want to hear it!

 

 

Small airports, like Springfield's, have their perks. Short wait times are one of them. We’re all used to it. Got an early morning flight? You can sleep late, get to the airport 40 minutes before departure, whiz through security in less than 10 minutes, walk to the gate, board, and BOOM!

So here’s the deal — those days are over. The lines are longer and so are the wait times.

For years we’ve told people to arrive at least 90 minutes before departure. If something goes awry, like a broken piece of security screening equipment, you need that much time. Our advice is mostly ignored. And now we're asking you to get here even earlier — please don’t ignore us.

The first four months of the year were the busiest in airport history. In May, nearly all flights were at least 96% full, or oversold. So far this year passenger numbers are up 9.3%. We expect more than 1-million passengers this year — an all-time record. That’s good news, but with growth comes pain.

We're adjusting for the increase in passengers: airlines have increased staff. The Transportation Security Administration has added staff and adjusted schedules at the security checkpoint. But most passengers? They still show up at the last minute, fully expecting to wait less than ten minutes. They’re shocked when they discover a 20+ minute wait at the checkpoint. But that’s what you get when most people show up at the last minute.

Check out this portion of an email we got last week …

“… I approached the security line, which had literally 60 more people in it than I had ever seen.  Historically, I consider the line "long" if there are 10 people in it. I had not anticipated this many people in line and did not allow >30 minutes extra to stand in the security line - my flight was starting to board … I spent 30 minutes in the security line!!”

She missed her flight.

We sympathize, but we’re going to tell you what we told her: YOU NEED TO GET TO THE AIRPORT TWO HOURS BEFORE YOUR SCHEDULED DEPARTURE.

Everyone here at the airport always strives to make things more efficient, but staffing levels can’t be increased to keep wait times at less than 10 minutes. At many airports 20 to 30 minutes is the norm; 10 minutes is a luxury. Unfortunately, it’s a luxury we’ve grown accustomed to, and now we're outgrowing.

Thank you for reading this and please forgive the lecture.