Posted on: March 7 2011Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is bracing for a busy seven-day stretch as Mardi Gras revelers descend on the city.
Armstrong Airport in high gear
More travelers than usual attracted
Saturday, March 05, 2011
From staff reports
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is bracing for a busy seven-day stretch as Mardi Gras revelers descend on the city.
Flights in and out of the airport were expected to be at or near capacity from Friday through Thursday as visitors come in for Mardi Gras and some local families head out of town for vacations.
This year's Mardi Gras is shaping up to be one of the largest in years. The typically warmer weather of March and the later date, which coincides with Spring Break at a number of colleges, has helped lure more travelers than usual.
"With Mardi Gras being late this year and coinciding with Spring Break, we expect to see a high number of visitors arriving for the festivities, coming to enjoy our unique food, culture and the overall experience of New Orleans," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.
The Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association has said that occupancy at area hotels is the highest it has been in years for Mardi Gras.
"I think because it's a little later in the year, people have been through winter, and they know the weather is likely to be better here in March as compared with February," Mavis Early, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association said. "People have been cooped up all winter; they want to get out and party."
Staffing levels at the airport have been increased, and the Transportation Security Administration will have all of its lanes open. The airport is encouraging passengers to arrive two hours before their scheduled departure time over the holiday period.
"Heavy passenger loads are the norm for the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans and this year will be no different," Director of Aviation Iftikhar Ahmad said. "We have been working closely with the TSA and our air carriers to ensure a pleasant travel experience for all who come to enjoy our wonderful culture."