Plenty of Flying Expected for the Holidays
SAN JUAN — The holiday season is slated to be a busy one at Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (LMM), with most major airlines increasing their daily routes as well as the entry of new players into the local market.
While the holiday season began proper in late November, specifically right after Thanksgiving Day, the highest period of passenger traffic takes place during mid-December, explained Nelman Nevárez, operations manager of LMM operator Aerostar Airport Holdings.
“We expect passenger traffic to increase at the airport by about 1.5%,” Nevárez told Caribbean Business. He added that the airport so far this year has registered a 4.5% increase in passenger traffic compared with 2015. “We expect that trend to hold into this holiday season as well,” he noted.
For this reason, airlines are slated to increase their daily frequencies during the season, at least until the weekend after Three Kings’ Day (Jan. 6), which falls on a Wednesday.
“Not only will airlines increase their frequencies, they will also bring larger planes to satisfy demand,” the Aerostar official said.
Chief among the airlines increasing their daily frequencies is JetBlue, which has boosted its usual schedule of 38 daily flights to upwards of 50, mostly to destinations such as New York City, central and south Florida, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
American Airlines and Southwest will also increase frequencies by at least one flight daily, especially during red-eye (after midnight) hours.
The season also sees the arrival of a new airline at LMM, namely Allegiant Airlines, which began servicing the airport on Dec. 14. The Las Vegas-based airliner will fly four times a week, mostly to Sanford, in central Florida. It will also offer a weekly frequency to Cincinnati, Ohio and another to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, both on Saturdays. “These routes didn’t exist before [in Puerto Rico],” Nevares said.
By the same token, Norwegian Airlines, Europe’s third largest low-cost carrier, will continue its presence in Puerto Rico with increased frequencies totaling five flights a week, including two weekly flights to London’s Gatwick Airport and direct connections to Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark.
Due to the increased traffic, Nevares urged travelers to arrive at LMM at least three hours before boarding time. “We have had talks with Transportation Security Administration [TSA] officials, and they’ve told us they are likewise ready for the influx of people coming in,” he added.
The Aerostar official also recommended that travelers follow all TSA rules, especially those that deal with liquids in carry-on luggage. “During this time of the year, many people want to take typical Puerto Rican food and beverages to their loved ones [in the U.S. mainland], but they must have those items in the checked luggage,” Nevares explained. “Liquids in carry-ons cannot exceed 3.4 ounces, so that bottle of coquito will not pass the TSA security point.”
Likewise, he recommended gifts be kept unwrapped until travelers have reached their destination. “If TSA officials see anything even remotely suspicious about a package, they will open it and destroy the wrapping,” Nevares said.