Flying out of SLO airport this Thanksgiving? Here are some tips to make the experience easy

Courtesy San Luis Obispo County Airport

Air travel continues to grow year after year after a major slowdown during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic — and the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport is part of that trend.

There will be an estimated 20% increase in the number of travelers flying into and out of San Luis Obispo airport in November compared to 2022, Deputy Director of Airports Courtney Pene told The Tribune on Monday.

In November 2022, 50,690 travelers used the San Luis Obispo County Airport, Pene said.

The increase in travelers expected this year means more than 60,000 travelers will likely be using the airport this month.

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday — traditionally one of the most travel-heavy holidays in the United States — this means a large number of people will be utilizing the local airport.

To help those travelers, Pene shared several tips to make travel through the airport easy:

Plan ride-share pickup ahead of time

Spaces in the airport’s normal lots may fill up quickly during peak travel times, so the airport recommends travelers explore other transportation options such as ride-share service or arranging drop-offs when possible.

The San Luis Obispo airport flies to eight different hubs, Pene said, and some travelers coming from metropolitan areas might be surprised by the wait times for a pickup from their ride-share driver.

She recommends travelers planning to use Uber or Lyft schedule a pickup in advance, rather than waiting at the airport.

Use the new cell phone waiting area

Meanwhile, locals planning to pick up or drop off friends and family members at the airport can park in the new cell phone waiting area while they wait for them to arrive at the curb, she said.

Parking has historically been a challenge, Pene said, which is why the airport opened the parking lot.

It is a designated parking area where drivers can temporarily park for free as they wait. The area has free Wi-Fi, is lighted and has on-site restroom facilities.

What time should you arrive?

With increased traffic, expect longer wait times to get through security.

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport recommends passengers arrive at the airport at least two hours before their scheduled departure time.

“This allows ample time for check-in procedures, security screenings and navigating through the terminal especially during this heightened travel season,” airport management said in a news release.

Understand the security process

When going through the security checkpoint, airport officials urged travelers to “come prepared to follow the 3-1-1 rule for your liquids and gels: 3 ounces of liquid in a 1-quart bag, 1 bag per person.”

Preparing those ahead of time helps to prevent crowding in the security line, officials said.