NEW ORLEANS - Every year before Thanksgiving, travelers flow in and out of Armstrong International Airport on their way to visit loved ones.
But this year is unique.
With a $356 million facelift slated to be complete by the Super Bowl, airport officials must find ways to work around construction and accommodate thousands of travelers.
Many of the escalators are down for now. A makeshift security checkpoint sits in what is normally a waiting area while the permanent checkpoint undergoes renovations.
And as the parking lot fills up with holiday travelers, the overflow lot is under construction too. Airport personnel said they are ready to direct travelers to paid lots outside the airport.
“I ended up on the roof but I expected it with holiday travel,” said Annie Cottingham, when asked where she parked on her way inside Armstrong International.
Some businesses are operating from kiosks while their facilities are redone.
But many travelers say they'll stomach the minor inconvenience if it means long-term improvement.
“When you see something new you say, ‘Alright. Things are coming along, things are progressing, you know.’ Particularly since 2005, and it's absolutely exciting to see,” said Andrell Hardy, a native New Orleanian who is currently living in Fort Bragg, NC.
Of the 16 capitol improvement projects, 13 are complete. The airport is still working to expand checkpoints, install new flooring and carpeting, bring in updated furniture and hang art from the ceiling and walls. There will also be updated signage throughout the airport, among other improvements.
”We've got some areas that look like they were built 50 years ago and some areas that look brand new so we're trying to come up with a cohesive way to bring that all together with color and texture,” said airport spokesperson Michelle Wilcut.
Officials advise travelers departing from Armstrong airport to arrive two hours before their scheduled flight in order to find parking.