Staff at Louisville’s Muhammad Ali airport reveals how things went during biggest week of travel since pandemic

They say they are seeing about 40% capacity of what they had this time last year.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The halls are decked, and lights are bright at Louisville’s Muhammad Ali Airport. That’s what travelers were greeted with when they showed up for their flight this week. 

For many people, thanksgiving was the first time they’ve traveled since the beginning of the pandemic, and Darrell Watson, the VP of strategy and innovation, says their goal was to make those travelers feel safe.

“Well we obviously want to try to create some sort of normalcy during the holiday times and having the trees up with the mask and make people feel comfortable as you’re flying through,” Watson said. “Safety, security and their health is our number one priority, that’s paramount.”

This week is one of the most traveled of the year, and while there were certainly more people in the airport than there has been since March, it’s still significantly less than years prior.

Watson says they are seeing about 40% of the total traffic they saw last year for Tuesday and Wednesday, and expect the same for the remainder of the holiday week and weekend.

“Things went really smoothly ya know everyone was doing their part to fly healthy. Seeing a lot of compliance, wearing their mask, and obviously a lot of folks using the hand sanitizer stations, and trying to maintain the social distance,” Watson said.

Those with Louisville’s airport had been preparing for months, and Darrell says no tweaks need to be made.

“Ya know it worked really smoothly and we don’t see any real significant changes that we’ll do for Christmas holiday and we’ll welcome the passengers back at that point again,” Watson said.

It’s not just the airport. Darrell says each airline has added countless cleaning procedures to ensure a healthy environment. Including electrostatic cleaning of the aircraft cabins, HEPA filtration systems, and the air exchanges that happen every two to four minutes.

Those steps along with enforcing masks, social distancing, plexiglass barriers, and less in-person staff, are all necessary to keep the airports open for the holidays coming up.

Many people can’t get to their families or do business without the ability to fly.

“It’s just so important to have that connection with family and friends and we need to stay open,” Watson said.