Eagle County airport sees high traffic over holidays | VailDaily.com

Eagle County airport sees high traffic over holidays

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS Airport crowd KA 12-23-10

GYPSUM, Colorado – The Eagle County airport is fastening its metaphorical seat belt and preparing for a whole lotta landings. Christmas is always a busy time at the Gypsum facility, and this year is no exception.

“We don’t anticipate it to be a record-breaking December, but we do expect it to be strong or in the area of previous Decembers,” terminal manager Chris Anderson said.

Figures on how many passengers are traveling here through the holidays won’t be available until the second week in January, he said. However, unofficial numbers suggest the counts will be about the same as previous years, Anderson said.

Passengers won’t be subjected to body scans in the security line. While the new scanner technology is part of the airport’s long-term plans, Eagle County passengers probably won’t see it for another year or two because it requires an expansion of the security checkpoint, Anderson said.

Pat-downs are within the realm of possibility, though. The airport implemented the Transportation Security Administration’s new pat-down procedures in late October. Folks in airport security referred questions about it to a TSA press person, who sent over a statement. The statement said TSA can’t share specific details about the pat-downs, but noted fewer than 3 percent of passengers require the pat-down. It said the pat-downs are primarily used to resolve alarms at the walk-through metal detector or an anomaly during screenings.

Passengers can expect slightly longer lines through Jan. 3, but in general things have been running smoothly at the airport, Anderson said. Although Vail has been getting blasted with early season snow, that generally hasn’t been interfering with flights, he said.

“The upper valley has been getting hit pretty hard with snow but we’ve been getting rain or dry conditions,” Anderson said.

Christmas falling on a Saturday has been helping things stay on track, he said. Usually, travelers rush to fly in the Saturday before Christmas, but this year the traffic has been spaced throughout the week before the holiday.

“We don’t have the bottlenecks we’ve seen in previous years,” Anderson said.

It’s encouraging to him that the parking lots are seeing heavy use.

“We know the locals are flying because our parking lots are filling up,” he said.

Peggy Wayne from Waco, Texas, and her two daughters arrived at the airport without incident Wednesday night. They’re in town to ski and visit with Wayne’s parents, who live in Edwards.

Wayne said she had been a little worried the new body scanners would slow down the security lines at the airport but found the Waco airport, where her family checked in, doesn’t have the technology.

Christian Terrazas from San Antonio, Texas, who is visiting with in-laws in Gypsum, was equally surprised by how smoothly her trip went Wednesday. She had been a bit concerned about flying over the holidays, especially because her husband’s flight out of San Antonio earlier in the week had been delayed and nearly caused him to miss his connection in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

“I was shocked,” she said. “There were no lines at the airport.”

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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