The Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF) has some advice for everyone flying from Springfield this summer: arrive at this airport at least two hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time. Those who don’t may miss their flight.
Regular customers tend to expect short lines at SGF. Historically, that’s the way it’s been, with wait times often less than 10 minutes. But things are rapidly changing — lines are longer and so are wait times. 20 to 30 minute waits are now common.
The first four months of the year were the busiest in SGF’s history. In May, nearly all flights were at least 96% full, or oversold. So far this year passenger numbers are up 9.3%.
SGF’s director, Brian Weiler, says “We easily expect more that 1-million passengers this year — an all-time record. That’s good news, but with growth comes pain.”
In response to the growth airlines have increased staff. The Transportation Security Administration has added staff and adjusted schedules at the security checkpoint.
“Unfortunately, many passengers still show up at the last minute, expecting to wait less than ten minutes,” says Kent Boyd, SGF’s public information manager. “They’re surprised when they discover a 20 minute-plus wait at the checkpoint. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when most people show up at the last minute.”
Getting to the airport two hours early seems excessive to many, but if something goes wrong every bit of that time will likely be needed. Common problems that hold up lines include faulty computer systems, and issues with screening equipment at the security checkpoint.
“Everyone here at the airport always strives to make things more efficient,” says Weiler. “But staffing levels can’t be increased to keep wait times at less than 10 minutes. Many airports have wait times of 20 to 30 minutes. It’s the norm; 10 minutes is a luxury. Unfortunately, it’s a luxury we're outgrowing.”