NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As staff at the Nashville International Airport brace for a surge in spring break travelers, BNA crews are also bracing for a winter weather surge.
For many of the biggest school districts across Middle Tennessee, spring break travel begins Friday.
Metro Nashville Airport Authority VP of Corporate Communications Stacey Nickens told NewsChannel 5 that she expects around 30,000 passengers to depart each day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
She said Sunday should be the busiest, with many travelers also returning from earlier spring break trips.
Anticipated passenger volume will likely surpass pre-pandemic travel numbers and serve as a stark contrast to spring two years ago.
"We're passed the numbers we had pre-pandemic, so we probably averaged around 25,000. Now we're at 30,000," Nickens said. "And we couldn’t be more excited, because we remember the day when it was just 500 people."
That was the all-time low in April 2020.
Travelers can help their trip run smoothly by checking their flight status before leaving home — especially with the threat of winter weather Saturday morning.
Crews are already doing what they can to keep flights running.
"We prep our grounds beforehand," Nickens said. "We prep our runways because it's our job to make sure everything is clear to get the planes in and out of the airport."
With the spring break rush, consider arriving at the airport two hours early to get through the crowds. Ensure you go through security at the correct terminal for your airline. The airport remains split into north and south terminals with construction ongoing in the center of the facility.
Travelers can check the parking options ahead of time at the airport's website. It will show which lots and garages have room for more vehicles.
For those parking onsite, be prepared. The cheapest parking option is the economy lot for $16/day. That's several dollars more expensive than before the pandemic.
"Once the numbers of travelers started to increase again, everything increased. The cleaning, the maintenance, everything that comes with it, so we had to increase those numbers to support the operations overall," Nickens said.
Drop-offs, ride-hailing services apps and private lots are other options.
And don't forget to bring a mask. The federal requirement was just extended until mid-April.
These days airport staff report handing out around 5,000 masks per day. That's compared to around 1,000 earlier in the pandemic.
"We know a lot of the outside world has reopened, but masks are still required inside the airport," Nickens said.