WINNIPEG — ‘Tis the season for the holiday bustle in airports across the country as jet-setters fly off to visit friends and loved ones for Christmas.
At Winnipeg’s James Richardson International Airport, traffic volumes are increasing leading up to the 25th as travellers not only fly across the country, but to warmer climates to escape the city’s frigid temperatures — albeit relatively below seasonal as of late.
Felicia Wiltshire, manager of communications and public affairs at Winnipeg Airports Authority, says December 18-19 is when the airport really begins to see a spike in passenger volumes. About 10,000 passengers make it through the air terminal daily during this time of year.
“Based on historic traffic volumes, we anticipate the 23rd of December to be our busiest day into the holidays,” Wiltshire said. “Just that day before Christmas Eve, everyone is trying to get either out of the city or back in — a lot trying to get out of the city — either to visit loved ones or get on that warm vacation for the holidays. Just be prepared, there are going to be a lot of people in the airport.”
Wiltshire says arriving early to the airport is key to ensuring a relaxed travel experience when checking in and clearing security. The WAA recommends travellers leave themselves between two and two-and-a-half hours in December to account for any delays and long lineups.
By giving yourself some extra time, you may also get to enjoy the airport’s concert series and other holiday-themed entertainment being offered throughout the terminal building.
If escaping the cold is on your holiday agenda, the airport also offers a coat and boot check for a small fee. This complements the curbside Valet & Away service, meaning your warm vehicle will be ready for you when you return from your sunny holiday destination.
Wiltshire adds that travellers also shouldn’t bring wrapped Christmas gifts in their carry-on luggage, as security staff may unwrap them.
“Bring your gifts unwrapped and once you clear security, we have a gift-wrapping station set up that’s complimentary to use. You can wrap all of your gifts before you get on your flight and all that we ask is a small donation towards Hunger for Hope for Winnipeg Harvest.”
The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has a list of what you can and cannot bring with you on your flight, as well as guidelines for food, liquids, medication and other items you may want to bring onboard.
Any weather-related travel delays either in Winnipeg or in another connecting destination are updated constantly on the airport’s website at WAA.ca.