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Billings airport approaching normal before Memorial Day weekend

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Posted at 9:07 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 23:07:58-04

Many passengers boarded flights for the Memorial Day weekend at Billings Logan International Airport on Thursday.

Travel usually increases once school is out, but this is the start for airlines, according to Keving Ploehn, city of Billings director of aviation and transit.

"A lot of it is the pent-up demand," Ploehn said. "Hardly anybody traveled last year. Last year in April, like 7,500 enplanements. That means about 15,000 people flew for the whole month. That doubled last May. About 26,000 people flew. This year we're looking at like close to 65,000 for May. So much better numbers. It's good to see things getting back to normal."

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KTVQ photo

"In terms of like the pandemic, I've been vaccinated, so I feel a lot better about traveling," said passenger Hannah Weiner. "I feel a lot more at ease. I was like a pretty nervous in November. This time I don't feel so nervous. So yeah, I feel pretty good."

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KTVQ photo

"This is our first time traveling since the pandemic hit," said passenger Kelly Bullshows. "We were supposed to go last year to Arizona. It's been delayed so we'll be going this year to visit my family because that's where I'm from. Kind of feels like you're going to normalize it. I don't mind wearing a mask. I'll still travel but it's exciting to finally get back out there."

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KTVQ photo

The airport may be a bit more crowded.

"Hiring has been a little bit challenging for everybody, TSA included, and so they are down a little bit in numbers," Ploehn said. "So you want to make sure that you don't wait till the last minute to get up here. I just was looking at July planes on the ground overnight and they all leave in the morning. So, if you're on those morning flights, you probably want to get here a little early, just so you can make sure you get through screening."'

Ploehn recommends getting to the airport about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes early to have time to go through security.

He also said masks are required in the airport and on flights.

Ploehn says travel is expeced be up 300 percent compared to last year.

This summer may be normal with about 1,500 passengers each day.