Even A Small Airport Like Missoula Recommends Arriving Two Hours Early
Missoula Montana is not Chicago, or New York, or Los Angeles, but authorities still recommend that travelers arrive at the airport at least two hours before any flight.
Deputy Director at Missoula International Airport, Brian Ellistad said the process of airline check-in and getting through the TSA security screening stills takes time, even at a smaller airport like Missoula.
“Sure, holidays like Memorial Day are busy, but summers are the busiest at the Missoula airport,” Ellistad said. “Our summer holidays are much busier, but really, it’s business as usual every day, just a big uptick in travel.”
With a record number of travelers in 2015, over 350,000, Ellistad said he expects a double digit increase again for 2016.
“What you see in the media doesn’t really happen here in Missoula,” he said. “But the old days of ‘oh…the airplane is flying over the house, better get to the airport’ are long gone. You still have to get here two hours prior, mainly due to the airline check-in process. We really have many more flights than we have in the past. We have Delta, United, Alaska, Allegiant and Frontier recently restarted their seasonal flights to Denver on May 4th.”
Ellistad said the TSA screening process is the same in Missoula as it is everywhere else in the country.
“Liquids and gels still get pulled out, laptops get pulled out, shoes get taken off, unless you’re signed up for pre-check,” he said.
Unfortunately the opportunity to be pre-checked has come and gone for the summer, however, once you get it, the pre-check is good at any airport in the country.
“They’ll be back here in mid-September to do the pre-check process again,” he said. “If you’re pre-checked, it costs $85, you get to leave the laptop and all the gels and liquids in your bag. With the pre-check, they do a background check on you with fingerprints. It’s nice for the return trip if you’re coming through a larger airport, that’s where it really makes a difference.”
Ellistad said there will be more personnel visible to the public at the airport this summer to answer questions for travelers.