Airport officials brace for large crowds throughout Memorial Day weekend

Airport officials brace for large crowds throughout Memorial Day weekend

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Officials at Myrtle Beach International Airport are bracing for large crowds they are expecting to see throughout the Memorial Day weekend.

For many locals, this is a weekend for traveling out of town. That means packing the bags and hitting the airport.

However, locals are also guilty of showing up to MYR at the last minute.

"When you were expecting a 10-minute wait, and now it's a 90-minute wait, it's a huge surprise," said Kirk Lovell, the airport's director of air service and business development.

Lovell added that seating capacity is up 7 percent this year, and 37 percent from 2013.

While that increase is good news, longer lines at security checkpoints are causing headaches for travelers and MYR and beyond.

Over the past month, airport officials have been sending press releases about the wait times at airports nationwide.

"Starting from today, Thursday going through Monday, we are expecting over 43,000 inbound and outbound seats, so we are expecting a lot of people and crowds," Lovell said.

On top of what Lovell called the "Disney-style cue lines," the airport has upped its staff and put signs for people to read while they wait, understanding many are frustrated at that point.

"The local TSA agents are doing their jobs and processing people as fast as they can by their codes and their policies, but they are not the ones that should be taking the brunt of people's frustrations," he said.

Another obstacle that may pose an issue for those looking to get away for the weekend is the traffic loop in place for Bikefest.

"We did have passengers that were stranded at the airport or missed their flights because they were stuck in the loop traffic," Lovell said. "But they just weren't educated on how to get to their airport."

Even for residents who have lived along the Grand Strand for years, Lovell suggested making sure they know the direct ways to the airport by checking the city website.

Lovell added the airport has seen some relief at the local TSA level. He said they've been opening up more check points and seem to have bumped up the number of staff.

However, Lovell believed this weekend will be very telling as to how the rest of the season will pan out.

"The real test will be this weekend, the Memorial Day weekend, as it kicks off the summer," he said.

Lovell suggested arriving to the airport two hours before a flight while also taking the traffic loop into account.

According to the numbers, Lovell said even though it may be the end of the holiday weekend, he expected Monday to be the busiest travel day.

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