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Bozeman Yellowstone International prepares for busy holiday season

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Nov 27 2013 06:18:29 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 27 2013 10:24:07 PM MST
BELGRADE, Mont. -

It's traditionally considered one of the busier travel holidays and marks the start of holiday travel season. We stopped by Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport to talk to folks taking off.

Jean Morillo lives in Big Sky. After a 3-month visit, he and his mother are set to fly to her home in Venezuela. If all goes well, they'll travel through four airports Wednesday, including Bozeman Yellowstone.

"Denver, Charlotte North Carolina, Ft. Lauderdale," says Morillo. From there, the two are driving to Miami for a flight to Venezuela.

"I will be back in my hometown in Venezuela tomorrow sometime around 9 o'clock at night," explains Morillo.

Morillo tells us he's watching travel conditions closely, and says he's optimistic.

"I already checked the weather, so it should be OK," says Morillo.

However, he does have one concern. "It is hard in the holiday for travel. Sometime, you get there but your luggage don't get there," Morillo says.

Heath Young just checked his luggage for Sydney, Australia, hoping to alleviate stress.

"I'm pretty sure it's going to be busy in the next 6 hours here and pretty much all over the U.S., I suppose, but I've got my fingers crossed," says Young.

He finished work early in Gardiner and decided he'd change his flight. Young will connect to a Los Angeles flight in Salt Lake City and, from there, fly to Australia.

"I thought about Thanksgiving a little bit and figured it can't be that bad," Young says.

Airport officials tell us between Wednesday and Sunday, 4,000 passengers will depart from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. If you add in arrivals, that's about 8,000 passengers moving through the airport. Yet, they say that's minimal compared to Christmas or the busy tourist season when they see 4,000 passengers in just a day.

"From the number of passenger standpoint, our Thanksgiving traffic is really about an average day for over the year," says Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport Director Brian Sprenger.

Sprenger explains the numbers have a lot to do with the type of traveler they see during the Thanksgiving holiday.

"Thanksgiving is really about family so, you have just the travelers going to see family and friends. Whereas, around the Christmas holidays and summer, it's a combination of both family and tourism and vacation, so it really changes the dynamic," says Sprenger.

Sprenger says it may also have to do with the holiday falling later in November and tells us most folks tend to lean towards the longer Christmas and New Years holiday rather than opting to travel for Thanksgiving.

Airport leaders say the closer they get to Christmas, the more they'll start to work with various airlines, TSA, even gift shops and restaurants to prepare for a significant increase in passengers.

They say weather also starts to become a factor so they're also looking to ensure snow plows and staff are ready to handle the impact of weather.

It's also important travelers do their part by planning ahead and arriving early.