DIA off to smooth holiday start | AspenTimes.com

DIA off to smooth holiday start

George Merritt
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Thanksgiving travelers expecting long lines and nightmarish waits at the Denver airport on Wednesday were instead treated to a quick trip from curb to counter to gate.

“I was expecting it to be a lot harder,” said William Hanson, 21, a University of Denver student who had only a brief wait at Frontier Airlines on his way home to Milwaukee.

“They actually did a pretty good job getting us through (ticketing) quickly,” he said.

Erica Cordova was braced for a long wait at the ticket counter as she and nearly 20 family members headed to Puerto Villarta, Mexico, for a holiday vacation.

Instead, “We walked right up to the counter,” she said.

Of some 300 flights on the Denver International Airport departure board at the peak of Wednesday morning’s rush, only two were listed as delayed.

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DIA, the nation’s fourth-busiest airport, was expecting 950,000 passengers from Tuesday through Sunday, down about 17,000 from last Thanksgiving.

About 142,000 were expected to take off, land or connect through DIA Wednesday.

Frontier Airlines spokesman Steve Snyder said part of the reason the airport ran so smoothly is that airlines and security agencies know to expect a high volume.

“It’s predictable,” he said. “You can staff up because with Thanksgiving you know when the crowds are going to come.”

Transportation Security Administration officers staffed 18 security lines all morning at the airport. At one point, people snaked through the corrals for about 20 minutes, but the lines were all but gone by 10:30 a.m.

Eric Engle, a National Guard military police officer from Denver, went from curb to gate in less than 30 minutes on his way to see his father in Alabama before his unit ships out for Kuwait and Iraq. He said he had not seen his father in 17 years.

Karen and Don McReavy returned to Denver from India, where they were undergoing leadership training with her church in one of the poorest regions of the country.

“We’re so happy to be home,” Karen McReavy said. “(Returning from India) makes you realize what a wonderful country we have.”

A wintry storm that dropped up to nine inches of snow in the mountains created few problems at the airport. Only about an inch of snow lay on the airport’s grassy areas, though some urban areas reported more.

Airport officials have spent $31 million this year to augment snow-removal equipment after a powerful winter storm last December shut down DIA for two days.

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