Flight Blog


Sometime this week the 1-millionth passenger of the year will use the Springfield Airport. It’s the first time in history that that many people have used the airport is a single year. Civic leaders and airport customers gathered at the airport Thursday morning to celebrate.

While we don’t know with absolute certainty that the millionth passenger of the year was here today, we know we're pretty close. The math department at Missouri State University did a statistical analysis. They narrowed it down to this week; then we picked a day to celebrate. We want to thank the community for making this day possible!


Members of the media photograph the flight arriving with the millionth passenger.


A million passengers a year is a milestone not only for the airport, but for the community. It’s a symptom of a growing region, and a strong local economy — since 2013 our passenger numbers have grown 40%.

Nationwide, air passenger growth will increase about 5.5% in 2018. Here in Springfield we'll be almost double that rate. By year's end we expect the total passenger count to be in the neighborhood of 1,063,000. We want to thank everyone for flying Springfield!

Who is the millionth passenger? We don't know for sure, but it's likely one of these people getting off American Airlines 3887.



Please forgive what we’re about to do; we need to administer some tough love.

On this, the first day of the summer travel season, we’ve got advice for everyone who flies from Springfield: arrive at this airport AT LEAST TWO HOURS before your flight’s scheduled departure time. If you get here at the last possible minute, you may get burned.

We know, you don’t want to hear it!



Small airports, like Springfield's, have their perks. Short wait times are one of them. We’re all used to it. Got an early morning flight? You can sleep late, get to the airport 40 minutes before departure, whiz through security in less than 10 minutes, walk to the gate, board, and BOOM!

So here’s the deal — those days are over. The lines are longer and so are the wait times.

For years we’ve told people to arrive at least 90 minutes before departure. If something goes awry, like a broken piece of security screening equipment, you need that much time. Our advice is mostly ignored. And now we're asking you to get here even earlier — please don’t ignore us.

The first four months of the year were the busiest in airport history. In May, nearly all flights were at least 96% full, or oversold. So far this year passenger numbers are up 9.3%. We expect more than 1-million passengers this year — an all-time record. That’s good news, but with growth comes pain.

We're adjusting for the increase in passengers: airlines have increased staff. The Transportation Security Administration has added staff and adjusted schedules at the security checkpoint. But most passengers? They still show up at the last minute, fully expecting to wait less than ten minutes. They’re shocked when they discover a 20+ minute wait at the checkpoint. But that’s what you get when most people show up at the last minute.

Check out this portion of an email we got last week …

“… I approached the security line, which had literally 60 more people in it than I had ever seen.  Historically, I consider the line "long" if there are 10 people in it. I had not anticipated this many people in line and did not allow >30 minutes extra to stand in the security line - my flight was starting to board … I spent 30 minutes in the security line!!”

She missed her flight.

We sympathize, but we’re going to tell you what we told her: YOU NEED TO GET TO THE AIRPORT TWO HOURS BEFORE YOUR SCHEDULED DEPARTURE.

Everyone here at the airport always strives to make things more efficient, but staffing levels can’t be increased to keep wait times at less than 10 minutes. At many airports 20 to 30 minutes is the norm; 10 minutes is a luxury. Unfortunately, it’s a luxury we’ve grown accustomed to, and now we're outgrowing.

Thank you for reading this and please forgive the lecture.



If you’re reading this post there’s a good chance we directed you here from social media. We’re asking you to read this because you think the airport is responsible for an airline problem.

Let’s talk about two questions:  what is the airline responsible for, and what is the airport responsible for?

Start with airlines —

Airlines do the following; this is not a complete list:

  • They sell tickets and provide transportation on airplanes.
  • They determine the cost of ticket.
  • They fly airplanes.
  • They cancel flights.
  • They update the flight schedules displayed on video screens at airports.
  • They staff the ticket counters and gates.
  • They park and push back airplanes at the terminal.
  • They load and unload your luggage.
  • They are responsible for lost or damaged luggage.
  • They de-ice airplanes during winter weather.
  • They maintain and repair airplanes.

The "Airport" owns, operates, and maintains the physical facility on the ground: the terminal, runways, taxiways, and so on.

The airport leases space to the airlines from which they do business. Airport leases do not include airline performance standards. Why? Because airlines won't agree to them. Bottom line: airlines are responsible for how they conduct their business at the airport and in the air.

Why tell you all this? Because a lot of folks think the airport is responsible for airline operations/customer service. In fact, they’re often encouraged to think so.

Here’s an example we received on the airport Facebook page:

CUSTOMER: “Quick question. The plane was here last night 2/9 and everyone knew about the tire issue with the plane. The announced the issue right before our scheduled boarding time. This caused over an hour delay that could have been prevented by having the maintenance crew come in and fix the issue. Why did this not happen?”
Customer questions like this raise another question — why was the customer convinced that the airport was responsible? Did they just assume that, or did someone tell them it was the airport’s fault?

Based on experience we know airline employees sometimes tell customers things like this: “the airport maintenance crew didn’t fix the tire.”

At best a statement like this is sloppy use of the language. It uses “airport” as a collective word to refer to everyone who works at the airport, be they airline employee, TSA employee, restaurant employee, or someone who actually is an airport employee.

At worst it’s a deceit meant to deflect blame from the airline – the airline employee knows most customers will assume that it means “the airport” is responsible for airplane maintenance.

A more accurate statement would sound something like this: “our maintenance crew didn’t fix the problem.” Or this: “we didn’t get the problem fixed in time.”


"Ladies and gentleman, the airport de-icing crew is short staffed so we’re going to be delayed."

"Folks, we're waiting for the airport ground crew to park us at the jet bridge."


From now on, when you hear statements like that, you'll have a better idea of what's going on.

Here's our bottom line ...

Even though the airport doesn't control airline operations we do try to exert influence. When we see patterns (such as consistent problems with de-icing), we bring it to the airline’s attention. We’ll ask airline managers: is there something the airport can do to help? What can we do to improve this?

These conversations are touchy. No airline likes to be told how to run its business, so the airport has to walk a fine line, but we clearly make the point that no one (airlines or airport) looks good when avoidable problems occur. And it hurts the customer.

We take this approach because airports don’t have a cudgel to hold over airlines. As mentioned earlier, airlines will not accept contractual performance measures in airport leases.

Having said that, here's a final thought ...

Ultimately, if you want your concern to make a difference, please direct it to the reposnsible airline. If enough customers do that, it could get the airline’s attention. And please know this: if the issue at hand really is an airport problem, we’ll be the first to say so.

Here's contact information for the airlines that serve Springfield:


Click here for Allegiant customer service information

Allegiant Twitter page

Allegaint Facebook page



Click here for American customer service information

American Twitter page

American Facebook page



Click here for Delta customer service information

Delta Twitter page

Delta Facebook page



Click here for United customer service information

United Twitter page

United Facebook page