APPLETON, Wisc., (WFRV) – State and local representatives from the TSA were at Appleton International Airport Wednesday reassuring the traveling public about its ability to handle the increase in summer travelers.
While reports of long lines and staffing shortages have plagued other, bigger airports in the country, Appleton has been able to glide through a steady increase in passengers.
“We do have the occasional passenger who is irate about having to wear the mask,” TSO Todd Wilda of the TSA at Appleton tells Local 5 News, “But it is a federal mandate. When you’re in the airport you do have to have one on.”
The scenes of air rage and bottlenecks that have made national news and circulated on social media seem a far cry from the comparatively chill atmosphere at Appleton International Airport where the TSA’s state spokesman says they’ve gotten creative to keep up with staffing demands.
“Now TSA is converting part-time to full-time. So those employees who want to go full time we’re offering that as well,” explained Frank Pipia, “and then also we’re giving a thousand dollar sign-on bonus.”
The biggest issue in Wisconsin airports has been oversized liquids and lotions and tools over seven inches and weapons. Yes, even guns are being brought to the airport in carry-on bags.
Passenger preparation and cooperation will be critical as Appleton is close to pre-pandemic passenger numbers.
“We’re having kind of a magical summer,” said Marketing Manager Patrick Tracey. “We just had in May, we are at 88 percent of our 2019 numbers.”
And it’s only looking up from here with the “packer traveler” and the special flight with direct service to the season opener in New Orleans. But remember you still have to wear your mask.
The federal mask mandate for airports and airplanes doesn’t expire until September 14th.