Why is Myrtle Beach SC Airport so busy and crowded lately?

Travelers proceed to a TSA checkpoint at Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) on October 14, 2021.

Travelers proceed to a TSA checkpoint at Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) on October 14, 2021.

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Myrtle Beach International Airport welcomed more passengers in October than ever before.

Last month, 297,075 people arrived and left the airport, a 31% increase from October 2019, according to an airport press release on Monday.

Moreover, between January 1 and October 31 of this year, the total number of passengers passing through the airport had already surpassed the whole of calendar year 2019, when the previous record was set. The airport had already broken travel records in June and July, when it had the busiest month for all airports in South Carolina.

“After a historic summer, we are delighted to see the heavy passenger traffic continue throughout the fall months,” Horry County Airports Manager Scott Van Moppes said in a press release.

However, record trips have not always been a good thing for travelers. The airport had multi-hour TSA queues and rental car pickups for much of the summer, creating intense headaches for visitors who have long seen the airport as easy. to cross.

Nine airlines operate at MYR: Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Porter, Southwest, Spirit, Sun Country and United. Southwest was the newest addition to the airport this year, arriving in May and marking one of the airport’s biggest expansions in years now that it’s finally served by the nation’s largest domestic air carrier.

The record year for passenger traffic was fueled by Southwest’s arrival at MYR but also by airlines like Frontier, United and Spirit collectively adding hundreds of new flights per week to the destination.

The arrival of Southwest also means more availability of off-season flights. In recent years, the airport has closed about half of the terminal during the winter months. The closure saved the airport on operating costs like cleanup, but Southwest has requested that it remain fully open this year, a sign of Myrtle Beach’s growing importance as a whole vacation destination. the year.

“Myrtle Beach is on its way to becoming a year-round destination and our airline partners have responded to this demand by extending seasonal markets that would historically have ended after the end of summer,” Van Moppes said in the statement. “We look forward to providing our travelers with more choice than ever as we approach next season and thank our airline partners for their continued commitment to MYR. “

The availability of off-season flights could also benefit visitors to the region’s Canadian snowbirds, which bring in tens of millions of dollars each year but were unable to travel here last year due to the border closure. The border was finally fully reopened to non-essential travel for visitors vaccinated on November 8.

Chase Karacostas writes about tourism in Myrtle Beach and across South Carolina for McClatchy. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 with degrees in journalism and political communication. He started working for McClatchy in 2020 after growing up in Texas, where he has signatures in three of the state’s largest print media as well as the Texas Tribune covering state policy, environment, housing. and the LGBTQ + community.

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