GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After a cold winter season, west Michiganders are packing up for Spring Break to head to sunnier destinations.
Travel experts with Gerald R. Ford International Airport are anticipating pre-pandemic travel numbers this Spring Break season.
On Friday, airport officials expect 14,000 travelers and even more on Saturday with 16,000 travelers coming through GR Ford.
By arriving early and planning ahead, these tips can really make your traveling experience a bit more seamless.
The hottest destinations (by popularity) include Florida, Cancun, the Caribbean, and surprisingly, Denver, Charlotte, and Nashville.
"It's been very busy here. Actually, over the last week, said Alex Peric, chief operating officer at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. "Parking has been busy, the restaurants have been busy. TSA has been busy. So overall, we're very excited to see those numbers bounce back to our pre-pandemic levels."
Peric says the airport is on track to see 65 percent more guests this Spring Break compared to 2021 - only ten percent short of what it saw in 2019 before the pandemic.
"We're expecting a busy spring break holiday, we are expecting around 150,000 people coming through the airport over the next week or so," said Peric.
For perspective -- the airport only saw an average of 40,000 travelers the week of Christmas last year -- but this spring break, they will see nearly four times that.
But with gas price shortages, staff shortages nationwide and the conflict in Ukraine, price hikes are a concern when traveling.
Peric says GR Ford's average spring break nonstop domestic ticket this time of year is $299 - the industry average, according to travel experts.
But that's not to say it couldn't happen - airline carriers at GR Ford say they could increase their prices over the next few months by five, even ten percent.
"We have a lot of options here, said Peric. "We have six carriers from the traditional carriers like Delta, United, and American, but we also have options in the low cost to ultra-low cost. That would include Southwest, Frontier, Allegiant."
While prices on each airline might vary, travel tips don't.
Peric's biggest piece of advice - arrive early.
By arriving at least two hours before your flight, you'll avoid searching for a parking spot, long lines due to bigger crowds, and of course, potentially missing your flight.
One of the tips Peric recommends to help make your travel experience a bit easier is to download the GRR app.
This app will show parking availability and cost, security wait times, and the status of flight arrivals and departures.
For more information, click here.