La Crosse Regional Airport prepares for busy holiday travel season

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Thanksgiving, which historically kicks off the holiday travel season, is just over a week away.

La Crosse Regional Airport and travelers are planning for a busy season.

The airport is facing high demand for flights over Thanksgiving weekend.

“We’ve been full, so we are going to see somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 to 175 passengers each morning—and about half of that on the afternoon flights,” said Ian Turner, director of the La Crosse Regional Airport.

But this year, fewer flights are available.

“That is generally a result of an ongoing pilot shortage that’s affecting regional air carriers across the United States,” Turner said.

On Monday, only three flights left the airport. One to Minneapolis and two to Chicago. Fewer options make for more packed planes.

“The biggest challenge this time of year is all the extra stuff people pack. They are packing more bags, and that all drives a longer wait time to get through the ticket counter lines as well as the checkpoint lines,” Turner said.

He advises that even if you are flying regionally to get to the airport two hours ahead of time to ensure everything is ready to go.

Airports are anticipated to be busy, and based on past years, the roadways are too.

Head petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, Patrick De Haan, said gas prices are higher than they were last year.

But Wisconsinites are in luck if you stop for gas before you cross the border.

“Gas prices in Wisconsin have fallen the most of any state in the nation—falling about 26 cents a gallon in the last week,” De Haan said.

It’s not certain how much gas could cost ahead of the holiday, but trends are predicting a cost drop.

“If everything goes well from here, I think it is completely feasible that we could see gas prices at some stations in Wisconsin falling under $3 a gallon by Thanksgiving,” De Haan said.

Turner says if you are looking to book any flights this holiday season, it is probably too late to get the best deal.

Some flights are still available around Christmas and New Years, but they will be expensive.

He recommends that going forward, your best chance for good deals come from booking two three months in advance.