Monday AM December 22nd, 2008

If you’re thinking the economy has made airports less hectic over the holidays, think again. Ed Mayberry reports.

image of airplane wing with a holiday wreath

Sixty-two per cent of Americans believe that airports will be less hectic this year due to the down economy, but flights were about 90 per cent full at prime travel times over Thanksgiving, and completely full in some markets.  Tania Ladic is with NCR, which makes self-service equipment for airports, banks and grocery stores.

“I think you’re gonna see that planes are gonna be full throughout the holiday season because the airlines did reduce the number of planes that are in the air right now.  But because of that, you’re still gonna see the throughput at the ticket counter.  You’re gonna see just as many people there because on you individual flight, you know, you and the other people you’re traveling with are all arriving at the same time.”

According to NCR, checking in at the counter with an agent takes an average four minutes for domestic flights and six for international flights.  Ladic says maybe things have changed since you last flew.

“Many airlines are actually charging for that first bag.  They may not understand that they can still use self-service.  A lot of people are still queuing up, or getting in the lines behind the ticket counter, and you can actually do that process in an automated fashion rather than get into the line.  So the airlines really are moving to wanting to give the passenger the power to, you know, purchase their ticket online, choose their seat online, do the check-in process online. change your seat if you want to, change your entire flight if you want to.”

There were about 11 per cent fewer flights available this past Thanksgiving holiday weekend. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.