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Billings airport expects slower than usual Thanksgiving travel season



Despite the pandemic, this coming Thanksgiving week is gearing up to be a busy one at many airports, including in Billings. Though estimates for travelers are below last year, Billings expects to see close to 1,000 passengers a day, at least on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

“There have been some Thanksgivings where we’ve hit close to 2,000 passengers, but given how everything else has been this year, we’ll take 1,000 passengers a day any day,” Kevin Ploehn, director of aviation and transit at Billings Logan International, told Q2 Wednesday.

Ploehn admits many folks have been traveling by car during the pandemic and he says that can be a problem for some Montanans who are coming back to the airport for the first time in a while.

“Sometimes when you travel by car, you’re not so worried about what’s in your suitcase or travel bag. There have been a substantial number of guns detected at screening points because people forgot that they went some place and didn’t pull their guns out. That is a no-no in the airport world,” Ploehn said.

Apart from guns in bags, Ploehn says that food is usually brought through the airport this time of year, which can pose another problem.

“Sometimes people want to take their grandma’s favorite pie or whatever… It probably needs to be in a ziplocked bag that you can see through. So when they are looking at this stuff, they don’t have to try to open things,” he said.

Ploehn added that because of the pandemic, masks are required in the airport, as well as on most planes. Also, the TSA doesn’t want to touch your belongings, so the easier you can make it for them to scan and inspect, the better.

Something else of note that Ploehn pointed out: Billings has new CT scannesr at security and part of the terminal building is under construction. Both could slow you down a bit, so it never hurts to give yourself extra time. Arriving 90 minutes before your flight is always a safe bet.


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