SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – With just two days until Christmas, millions of Americans are already on their way to holiday destinations. 

AAA says more than six million travelers are expected to fly, which totals a 184% increase from last year.  

However, those that frequent the Springfield-Branson National Airport know it hardly ever gets to levels seen at some of the larger airports nationwide. 

Regardless, there is a good chance you’ll find a family reuniting, a few folks standing at the baggage claim, and a few others waiting in the TSA security line. 

So far on December 23rd, passengers say it’s been a seamless process. 

“Actually, I frequent this airport and it’s really nice because you can get through so quick, so our flight leaves in like 30 minutes. But I’m like the luckiest flyer of all time so if you’re not me, probably get here an hour early just to be safe,” says Kilty Box, who was flying from Springfield to central Texas this afternoon.  

“I’m visiting my family over the holidays, I just moved (from) Alabama, some kind of coming back to Missouri to go visit them,” traveler Trevor Aldenburg said. “It’s like there’s no one here at all. So I was able to just get off my plane. You know, I’ll have to fight any crowds and get over here. No issue.”

Despite a busy holiday season, airport officials say traffic has still has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.  

Currently, the Springfield-Branson National Airport is seeing traffic at about 80% the rate it was in 2019. 

Across the U.S., AAA says more than 100 million people will travel 50 miles or more between today and January second. 

However, while AAA officials are once again calling December 23rd the busiest travel day of the year, airport spokesperson Kent Boyd says it’s a relatively calm day for flying in and out of Springfield. 

He says frequent business travelers are often off the next two weeks. Replacing them will be infrequent travelers or first-time flyers who slow the airport process down.   

“One of the interesting things about the holidays at airports is that you get a bunch of people in the airport who’ve never flown before or who fly very infrequently,” says Boyd. “And these are frequently the people who will tell you the airport is so crowded, even though it’s really not because they just don’t know.”

“I’m not making fun of them. But you know, they get to the airport and they don’t know what to do. They don’t know where the ticket counter is. They don’t know what they need to do to get themselves through the checkpoint in a fast way. And that’s the hang-up we have. It’s that inexperienced and first-time traveler. So I tell those folks, before you travel, get on the airline website, get on the airport website, try to figure out the lay of the land, figure out what you’re supposed to do.” 

Boyd says he believes the busiest travel day after Christmas will be on Sunday, December 26th.  

For those still planning to fly out of the Springfield-Branson National Airport in the next two weeks, officials recommend you arrive about two hours before your flight’s departure.