Expect long waits with only a pack of airplane pretzels as consolation.
Travellers may have noticed long wait times at Kelowna International Airport (YLW) now it’s nearly back to its pre-COVID numbers.
Philip Elchitz, senior manager of airport operations at YLW explained that although the airport sees about 86 per-cent of its usual volume, the flight times have been compressed into morning slots for better “connectivity” at larger airports, making it seem busy.
Prior to the pandemic, YLW managed 60 flights each day, spread throughout the day. Now that flight departures are condensed Elchitz said that travellers should prepare to wait.
“It’s very important for people to arrive two hours in advance for domestic flights.”
He explained that there may be long lines for checked luggage drop-off and in the security lines.
To simplify the travel process, Elchitz encourages people to check in online, print their boarding and baggage tags at the kiosk and know the rules about baggage on their chosen airline.
Over the Canada Day long weekend, Kelowna’s airport saw travellers peak on Sunday with 6,400 passengers using the facility. This number is just under 90 per-cent of the ‘old normal’. The new post-pandemic average for a non-holiday travel day is approximately 4,000 to 5,000 passengers.
Elchitz said that Kelowna has rebounded better than most airports because the majority of the passengers using YLW are travelling for pleasure, not business. Leisure travel has regained popularity, while business travel may take years to bounce back, explained Elchitz.
Despite their resiliency, YLW has not been immune to Air Canada’s staff shortages and subsequent flight cancellations.
Lines for security will be the longest on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays, said Elchitz.