BLOUNTVILLE — Passenger numbers surged in October at Tri-Cities Airport, and airport officials expect numbers to climb again in November.

“As of end of October, we were 69% above 2020 passenger numbers and 28% below 2019 passenger numbers,” according to an email from Kristi Haulsee, director of marketing and air service development for the Tri-Cities Airport Authority.

Allegiant Airlines brought back its flight to St. Petersburg, Fla., on Nov. 18, and that’s helping drive up passenger numbers, Haulsee said. Allegiant will continue its service to Florida through Jan. 2.

“I would think with the St. Pete flight being back, we’ll inch closer to 2019 November passenger numbers,” she noted in an email.

More passengers means more cars in the parking lot. Haulsee said the number of cars parked at the airport is 50% more than last year. For October, parking was 97% more than 2020.

“The parking lot currently looks more full for holiday travel,” Haulsee said.

So far, arrivals and departures appear to be on time, she said. TSA wait times remain good. However, passengers should arrive 90 minutes before their flight time.

Haulsee offered the following tips for passengers:

For Allegiant flights, passengers should be at the gate area 45 minutes before departure and 30 minutes before departure for American and Delta.

“These are the same times the ticket counter ‘closes’ for a flight,” Haulsee said. “We see folks miss flights because of how easy it is to get through the airport, and they don’t always realize the ticket counter ‘closes’ processing passengers for a flight 45 or 30 minutes prior to departure.”

She said the gates close 15 minutes before departure for Allegiant and 10 minutes for American and Delta.

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