Nov 2, 2022 - News

Des Moines could see record-breaking travel this Thanksgiving season

Illustration of a turkey pulling a suitcase.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

We're back in the air, baby. The number of flyers at Des Moines International Airport are expected to exceed 2021 numbers, according to airport officials.

State of play: Flights this fall have been buoyed by an increase in "bleisure travel," said Kayla Kovarna, spokesperson for the Des Moines airport.

  • More people are tacking on extra days to their business travel and inviting their families to join, while taking advantage of remote work.
  • In September, the airport experienced a record-breaking 123,000 people boarding planes.
  • The average plane was 87.5% occupied for early October. The goal is to be above 80% to deem a flight "profitable," Kovarna said.

What's next: Kovarna expects that trend to continue as people try to combine work and holiday travel this month.

What we're watching: More than 20,000 travelers are expected to go through the airport on Wednesday and Thursday during Thanksgiving week.

  • There are 27 nonstop destinations being served in November, six more than three years ago.
  • A survey sent out by the airport to major employers in Des Moines showed the majority of them planned to be back to normal business travel in September 2022.

Thanksgiving tips from the airport:

  • Arrive 90 minutes before your departure time.
  • If you're leaving your car, check the airport's new parking cost estimator and real-time parking lot availability tracker.
  • Construction is happening at the airport, resulting in congestion. If you're parking in the economy lots, go all the way down to Leland Avenue to avoid it and more easily reach the green, blue and gray lots.

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