ILM prepared for busiest travel week of the year

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Wilmington International Airport. File photo.
Wilmington International Airport. File photo.

Those who will be traveling through Wilmington International Airport (ILM) this week will be dealing with heavier than normal crowds. The days before and after the Thanksgiving holiday tend to be the country’s busiest air travel days, and this year is no different.

“This is the busiest holiday of the year because it’s so condensed,” said Gary Broughton, operations director at ILM. “It’s not going to be chaotic, but it is going to be heavy.”

American Airlines (which recently merged with U.S. Airways) and Delta Airlines offer daily non-stop flights from Wilmington to Charlotte, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York – LaGuardia as well as Saturday-only flights to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

According to Broughton, these flights bring about 1,000 passengers through the airport each day. This Tuesday, which Broughton said is the day many people start to travel, they’ll be expecting around 1,300 travelers based on the number of bookings.

“We will see heavier than normal crowds, but it’s not unexpected,” Broughton said. “The airlines will have their employees ready, and the security checkpoint will be staffed accordingly.”

Broughton said that while they are anticipating more passengers this year over the same time period than last year, when 7,500 travelers passed through the airport from the Monday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after, many flights in and out of ILM are not completely booked.

“The airlines are using some larger aircraft this year,” Broughton said. “The number of flights is about the same, but there are more seats available.”

Travelers are encouraged to follow the airlines’ recommendations for airport arrival, which Broughton said is about an hour and a half prior to departure.

“You want to make sure you have plenty of time,” said Broughton. “We’ll have plenty of parking available, but some lots may fill up quickly.”

Passengers should also expect slightly longer lines to get through security due to the greater number of travelers. Despite recent events in other parts of the world, Broughton said the security risk level has not been raised and air travelers can expect the normal screening process.