GREAT FALLS — Christmas is nearly here and many people are usually traveling near and far to be with their loved ones - but this year has changed the way many will celebrate the holidays.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are avoiding traveling for fear of crowds and spreading the virus to their friends and family.
Great Falls International Airport has seen around 50% of their normal holiday crowd. And with an increase in cleaning and hours for airport employees, along with fewer people buying tickets, the airport is seeing difficulties they haven’t experienced before.
“A lot of people made reservations, and then because we were kind of at the beginning of the uptick, a lot of people canceled those reservations, so the airlines were expecting a lot more people and they didn’t travel,” said airport director John Faulkner.
But despite the hardships brought on by the pandemic, the Great Falls International Airport hopes this summer will be better for travel. “It’s a great time to book summer travel,” said Faulkner. “It looks like there’s going to be a strong chance that between the big curve of people that have had the virus and then also the vaccines, that there will be opportunities to travel this summer, so there’s some great deals still out there. It’s a great time to book a summer trip and start looking beyond what we're dealing with day to day.”
The Great Falls International Airport would also like to remind any holiday travelers that if you are traveling with a gift this Christmas to leave it unwrapped for TSA security checks.