Juneau International Airport is expected to be busy during Thanksgiving holiday week amid lax COVID-restrictions. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Juneau International Airport is expected to be busy during Thanksgiving holiday week amid lax COVID-restrictions. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Juneau International Airport prepares for busy holiday

Long-term lots expected to be full.

According to managing director of the Alaska market for Alaska Airlines Scott Habberstad, there’s no time like the present for travel.

“Travel is back, enjoy it,” Habberstad said. “Smile, get out there and enjoy life.”

With COVID-related restrictions easing all throughout the country, Juneau International Airport manager Patty Wahto said they’re expecting a normal and busy travel season this Thanksgiving holiday week, so people should plan accordingly.

“Plan for a two-hours of check-in, especially if they’ve got baggage to check in and check with the airlines if you think there are weather concerns or other things,” Wahto said. “There are no mandates within the airport at this time and I’m not expecting any to go into effect, so really it’s anyone who wants to wear a mask, they’re certainly still welcome to do so, and you still see quite a bit of that on aircraft.”

Along with no COVID-related mandates within the airport, Habberstad said that Alaska Airlines is also not enforcing mandates of any kind at this time and will rely upon a stringent cleaning process within all of their aircraft instead.

“With respect to masks and mandates, people are flying again, it’s safe to fly and if we’ve learned anything from COVID, it’s keep the airplanes cleaner and cleaner, so that’s what we’re doing,” Habberstad said. “Our folks are committed to your safety and our employees’ safety.”

In addition to airport travel being expected to be busier than the last couple of years, Wahto said, so, too, will the airport’s long-term parking lot.

“It has been exceedingly full, so people may want to just check on that early enough and see what spots are available or just be prepared that if the lot is filled and they’re planning on parking there, they may want to allow themselves plenty of time because that long-term lot has been filled to capacity lately and it’s even been trickling over into the short-term lot,” Wahto said. “We just have a lot of people traveling.”

Wahto added that even prior to holiday travel, the lots have been full and the airport is currently looking into alternate parking and eventually will be addressing the idea of expanding the lots altogether.

Habberstad said Alaska Airlines still have seats available for the week of Thanksgiving and flights are expected to run nearly full.

“It looks like a lot of people will be taking the long week off, which is great for the community, people are enjoying flying again,” Habberstad said. “We’ve got our three non-stops, the early morning one at 5:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. and then the evening flight, but we also have two flights that either go via Sitka and Ketchikan, flight 62, or flight 64 that goes down through Wrangell and Petersburg and Ketchikan towards Seattle, so Juneau is going to have five flights to Seattle a day.”

As for Delta Airlines, Wahto said that currently the airline is only running a Saturday/Sunday schedule. Delta Airlines did not respond to messages seeking comment.

“Their weekend schedule may impact people that are coming back on Sunday or something like that, but as far as I know, they’re still planning that schedule.”

Habberstad said those who are planning to travel by plane this holiday week should remember to allow for enough time to get through the Transportation Security Administration at the airport.

“We Alaskans are kind of accustomed to making it to the airport at the last minute so as to not waste our time,” Habberstad said. “Flights will be running crowded over the Thanksgiving holiday, so the morning departures where we have two departures southbound and then that one northbound, it can sometimes get congested getting through TSA, so just make sure to give yourself enough time to get to the airport. They’ve got a new restaurant out there, it has good coffee and not a bad bagel either.”

For Alaska Airline Club 49 members, Habberstad said to make sure to check in on the mobile app or Alaska Airlines website to ensure benefits are current so as to avoid paying for bags. Lastly, for those who may be traveling last minute, Habberstad added that it’s a good idea to check for the Club 49 30% discount.

“The last thing you want to do is get to the airport and then have to pay for two bags,” Habberstad said. “So, just make Club 49 up to date so you don’t have to pay for your bags and give yourself ample time to get there. Also, don’t forget about your Club 49 30% off last minute travel deal coupon in your inbox. Club 49 members, if they book travel inside of three days, they can take up to 30% off the ticket price with that coupon.”

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

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