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Manchester Airport anticipates fully booked flights, possible delays this weekend

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in NH
Dan Tuohy
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Manchester, NH. Dan Tuohy photo 2023 / NHPR

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is usually buzzing with families and hundreds of college students taking to the skies trying to get to their loved ones. Ted Kitchens, the airport’s director, says the scene will repeat itself this weekend. But with higher passenger demand, some inconveniences may arise.

In 2021, the airport served 24,000 passengers departing during Thanksgiving week– about 2,000 passengers each day. In 2022, that number waned slightly to 1,850 passengers daily. But this year, Kitchen foresees that number reaching pre-pandemic figures with around 100 more seats available each day.

Kitchens predicts all those seats to be filled during the holiday travel season since flights have been consistently full this year, which could lead to delays.

“Remember to be understanding of potential flight interruptions or any delays,” Kitchens says. “Hopefully, it’s going to be good weather.”

Manchester Airport had one Southwest flight delayed coming from Tampa on Wednesday after a snowy night. But the National Weather Service forecasts Manchester will have sunny to mostly cloudy skies and some possibility of showers from Thursday to Sunday.

As for Monday, when the outbound activity will be at its peak, Kitchens said passengers need to check the weather forecast and their flight information in advance.

The airport’s higher demand goes hand in hand with expected nationaland regional travel increments. AAA Northern New England reported New Englanders will be setting a new traveling record this holiday with 330,000 passengers flying for leisure, an increase of 6.2% from last year.

“It’s going to be a lot of people. Arrive at the airport a little earlier than normal just to ensure that you have a smooth experience through the TSA checkpoint,” Kitchens said.

The airport now offers a new parking tool that’ll help people take less time finding a spot, and two extra Computer Tomography X-ray examiners that allow passengers to keep their laptops or other electronics in their bags to reduce time at security.

Still, Kitchens says it’s important travelers arrive two hours before their scheduled departure and hopes people pack extra patience to not lash out against the airline's workforce.

“Understand that it's not the airline workers fault if their flight may be a little bit delayed,” he said. “[That’s] what the season is all about, which is to be thankful for all the blessings that we have and to be nice to each other.”

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.
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