Surge in Thanksgiving travelers at Appleton International Airport

Passengers are checking their bags at Northeast Wisconsin airports
Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 10:06 AM CST
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APPLETON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Wis. (WBAY) - Passengers are checking their bags at Northeast Wisconsin airports as more than 55 million travelers are expected Thanksgiving week.

The Appleton International Airport anticipates about 18% more people flying out this week compared to the same time last year.

Air Service & Business Development Manager Jesse Funk said there’s also 12% more seats on planes leaving the airport Thanksgiving week. That’s a mix of more flights taking off... and some planes having more seats onboard.

“If you expect the crowds you can plan a little bit. If we do get any weather situations understand that it’s going to take a little longer to get to the airport,” Funk said.

ATW isn’t alone. According to AAA, more than 4.5 million people are flying for Thanksgiving nationwide.

Affording to Funk, the airport has been preparing for the boost for months now:

“We put in new concrete this summer to help with de-icing operations to get the planes more areas to de-ice. We’re working with our airline partners as we talk about what the needs are with planes as there are more flights going in and out.”

Travelers in line said they had a smooth airport experience.

“Yeah, in the past I’ve always thought that their infrastructure is pretty good and they seem to push people through the air pretty efficiently,” Joseph Scala said before flying to Nevada. “I look at it from a practical standpoint and anything that’s good for our area is good for me so the increase in traffic is just a good thing.”

Joanne Koskela is flying to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with her daughter, son-in-law and grandkids. She told Action 2 News she expected flying to be the easiest part of her day.

“I’m glad to get here. Because we live in Rapids and we had a ways to drive and we left at 4:30 so, phew, it’s been a challenge but I’m glad we’re here!” Koskela exclaimed. “I’m not seeing it very busy. Of course we’re not Miami or you know, Los Angeles or places like that... Seems perfect to me. It doesn’t seem like there’s any problem!”

“So far it’s been fabulous. We’re here on time and we’re going to check in and fly,” Kristy Gunther flying to Florida with her daughter said. “No worries! They do a great job! Flying out of a small airline at a small airport... it’s all good!”

Appleton International Airport has tips for people taking to the skies for Thanksgiving.

Funk said, “We encourage them to use our cell phone lot as they pick up travelers because the drive lanes are going to be busy out front.”

Funk also encourages everyone to download their airline’s app on a cell phone before heading to the gate.