GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Officials at Gerald R. Ford International Airport are expecting a high number of passengers Thursday through Sunday.
Spring break is the busiest time of year for the airport and many have already started leaving for warmer climates.
"We pulled the girls out of school a day early," said Brian Czarnecki on Wednesday. "I think it was all based on the flights out of Grand Rapids direct to Orlando. Our Cruise will leave tomorrow."
Czarnecki, his wife Kari and two daughters Ali and Moli are excited about their spring break vacation.
"We are going on a 3 day Disney cruise which will take us to the Bahamas and to their private island and then we are going to do 3 days at the park in Orlando," said Kari.
The family was able to avoid some of the long lines travelers started seeing Thursday. Phil Johnson, Deputy Executive Director of the Ford Airport says they are expecting increased traffic over the last couple of years and with that, longer lines and wait times for passengers.
"We average on a normal day about 5,500 travelers leaving or arriving," said Johnson. "You can bump that up by 10% to 20% over the next three days. You have a lot of travelers leaving this time on their spring break vacations who don't travel that often, so they are not that familiar with the routines of checking in and going through security check points."
Johnson says planning ahead could help people get to their destination with as few delays as possible.
"Obviously our message this time of the year is get to the airport earlier than you normally would," said Johnson. "We recommend 90 minutes for those passengers who already have their boarding pass and are not checking bags and can proceed to the gate. For passengers who need to check in at the ticket counter or check their baggage I would suggest 2 hours if they arrive at the airport over the next few days."
Johnson says the biggest tips he can offer passengers relate to the security screening checkpoint and what people can and cannot bring.
"Divest yourself of everything you have on. Take everything out of your pockets, take your belts off, your coats off, your shoes off and you will make it through the checkpoint a lot easier," said Johnson. "If you have liquids with you, they need to be 3 ounces or less and need to be in a quart sized Ziplock bag and separate from your luggage. If you do that before you get to the checkpoint, you will smoothly go through the a lot easier."
The airport has issued a traffic advisory due to construction on 28th Street SE. Portions of the roadway, from Breton on the west to I-96 on the east, may be reduced to one lane each direction resulting in significantly slower traffic.
"You don't want to get off on 28th Street if you are coming to the airport on I-96. We suggest exit #44 which is 36th Street," said Johnson.
From there take 36th west one mile to Patterson Avenue and Patterson south to the airport entrance.