SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — It’s a busy travel day across KELOLAND as families hit the road, and take to the skies, for their Memorial Day holiday destinations. Sioux Falls Regional Airport was filled with air travelers Friday looking forward to spending the long weekend without the stresses of the pandemic limiting their movements.
John Copple is beginning the final leg of his long-distance journey as he picks up his two kids for a summer vacation in Alaska.
“I flew in from Anchorage to Minneapolis and Minneapolis to here and the flights aren’t too full right now and it seemed to go pretty smooth,” Copple said.
10-year-old Bridger Copple just finished the school year at Brandon Elementary and has a full schedule planned for the summer.
“We might go hiking, we’ll go exploring and we’ll go to some pools, maybe stay at a couple of hotels and it’s going to be a lot of fun and this is going to be my first summer in Alaska and I get to spent it with my dad,” Bridger said.
The busy terminal is a big change from Memorial Day a year ago in Sioux Falls.
“It was a trickle last May, for sure and if people were traveling at all, they were typically driving. They certainly weren’t flying last Memorial Day,” Sioux Falls Regional Airport Executive Director Dan Letellier said.
The Memorial Day holiday travel crowds can really set the tone for the upcoming travel season here at Sioux Falls Regional Airport.
“We’ve seen just yesterday, 1,800 people fly out of Sioux Falls. That’s pretty busy for any time of year. All of next week, we have over 1,500, 1,600 people flying out, so it’s back into more of a typical summer travel session,” Letellier said.
While masks are still required in the terminal and on flights, holiday travelers say they’re looking forward to getting away from it all, and that includes the coronavirus restrictions that have been part of their lives for so long.
“It will be a relief. I’ll definitely be looking forward to where we don’t have to wear the masks and all that. Life will be back to normal,” Copple said.
While Sioux Falls Regional Airport has seen a sustained increase in the number of leisure travelers, Letellier says it might not be until fall before the airport has a significant increase in business travel.