Local airport shows off short lines

Wait times through security lines usually 5-10 minutes

The long lines waiting to get through security can be much shorter at smaller airports, and officials at La Crosse Regional Airport hope they can use that to their advantage, especially as wait times have skyrocketed at major airports around the country.

The Transportation Security Agency’s head of security is being replaced after outcry from thousands of angry fliers, sometimes missing their flights from waiting hours to get through security.

“I’d see the lines as I was walking through the terminals I could see people coming in. It looked like chaos, like a madhouse,” Rick Marbury, who had a connection flight in Chicago. He said he was glad he could go through La Crosse Regional Airport’s security rather than O’Hare’s on his way home to Utah.

“It’s like I had a whole team just for me. So I was pretty much the only one going through right when I got here,” he said. “I’m really happy I don’t have to go through security in Chicago.”

The airport’s director Clint Torp said he thinks long lines at major terminals will push more fliers to smaller airports like La Crosse’s, where wait lines through security are usually less than 10 minutes.

“That’s something we’ve used on our social media to show people that there are a lot of good benefits for using the local airport,” he said. “You’re through security in a couple minutes. You’re not having to show up at the airport two, three hours in advance. You show up at you’re leisure, and of course the best part is when you get home you’re home.”

The Ottesen family, back from a trip to Washington D.C., like to start and end their flights right at home.

“It’s just a lot less stressful. You don’t have to arrive two hours ahead of time,” Aaron Ottesen said.

Theresa Patil, who was flying back to her current home in Omaha from her hometown of La Crosse, said the smaller airport makes things a whole lot easier.

“La Crosse is the easiest airport I’ve ever flown out of it. It’s so stress free. There’s hardly people here, so we don’t worry about getting here super early to check in, and I love it,” she said. “When you have kids, any added cost to reduce the stress is always better too.”

Torp said paying a bit more to fly locally is worth it for many fliers, and encourages people to compare fares at other airports.

“I think depending on when you’re booking and how you’re looking at buying your tickets, the fares can be really competitive. Sometimes it’s even cheaper, sometimes it is more expensive,” he said.

According to Torp, the airport would like to add more nonstop flights to cities beyond Minneapolis and Chicago.

“One of the main issues we’re facing now is nationwide pilot shortage, and that’s hampering the ability of small community airports like La Crosse to be able to add additional services, because there’s really no one to fly the airplane,” he said.

Torp said there are ongoing efforts to add in more direct destinations, and they just updated their incentive package to try to get passengers nonstop to Detroit.