Written by Brian J. Grefe
As the Director of Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA), I’m thrilled to report that passengers are flying more and more from our convenient, local airport.
For the first half of 2019, passenger numbers at CWA have grown by over 15%!
At this rate, the airport could see nearly 300,000 passengers this year — a number that hasn’t been seen since before the Great Recession of 2008.
This growth in local air travel is great news for the communities of Central Wisconsin . . .
You see, as the number of available seats fill up, the airlines we serve (Delta, United Airlines, and American Airlines) will add more seats — and potentially more destinations — out of CWA. This growth will also drive airline ticket prices at CWA down even further.
Your local ticket purchase is a WIN-WIN for you and for the entire community!
In addition to lower prices and better airline schedules, more people are simply flying out of CWA’s “catchment area” — this is the geographic boundary that makes our airport the one that potential passengers are closest to. (See CWA’s catchment area in blue on the map below.)
In 2015, our catchment area had 516,086 passengers. Last year, it had 578,772 passengers. By the end of this year, that number will be climbing even higher!
Data shows that passengers in our catchment area use CWA approximately 40% of the time. The other 60% of the time, travelers choose to travel longer distances to other airports (such as Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago).
Increasing our passenger retention at CWA — something I can help with by encouraging you to fly local — would certainly allow CWA to add additional destinations that community members want, such as Denver, Dallas, or Atlanta.
Tips & Tricks for Flying CWA
While CWA’s growth is a great thing overall, our airport is experiencing a few “big city” challenges.
Well, for starters, we now ask that departing passengers arrive at least 90 minutes before their flight time. This is especially true for our early morning departures (between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.)
Each day, in just 1 morning hour, our friends at TSA are tasked with screening nearly 200 passengers; however, the technology they are provided can’t screen more than 150 passengers per hour. The result of this “math problem” = longer wait times.
TSA has provided us with the following recommendations to make traveling easier at CWA:
- Prepare for security when packing — Use TSA’s handy online tool “What Can I Bring?” or download the MyTSA mobile app. This search tool allows you to type in an item to find out if you can bring it in your carry-on bag, checked bag, either, or neither.
- Wrapped Gifts — TSA recommends that you NOT bring wrapped gifts to the checkpoint. If the package alarms, they will have to unwrap it, and that makes everyone unhappy. Gift bags are a good alternative, or simply wait to wrap your gifts until you arrive at your destination.
- @AskTSA — Travelers with questions about security can contact a TSA employee for live assistance 365 days a year by tweeting questions and comments to @AskTSA.
- Follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule for your carry-on bag — Let the TSA officer know right away if you’re traveling with larger quantities of medically necessary liquids.
- Be ready when you enter the checkpoint line — Have an acceptable ID and your boarding pass out and ready to hand to the TSA officer.
- TSA Cares — Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities or medical conditions can call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 1-855-787-2227 with questions or for assistance 72 hours prior to traveling. Injured service members and veterans may contact TSA Cares to help facilitate the screening process. Learn more about how TSA Passenger Support Specialists may be of assistance in the video below.
Making the most out of your traveling experience at CWA is as easy as 1 -2 -3:
- Arrive early (at least 90 minutes before your flight time).
- Be prepared to go through security.
- Relax and enjoy the Blind Rooster Café + Market (post-security), with food served starting at 4:15 a.m. and Bloody Marys starting at 6:00 a.m.
In fact, even if you’re NOT flying anywhere, I invite you to visit us at CWA in Mosinee to check out our many shopping and dining amenities . . .
- Relax at The Blind Rooster Kitchen + Bar (open to the public; located on the 2nd floor of the airport). Come for brunch, lunch, or dinner and enjoy 3 hours of FREE PARKING while watching the planes land. (See their menu and hours at their Facebook page.) But I’ll give you a little teaser right here . . . They have specials like a Friday Fish Fry and a Sunday brunch. (Don’t say I don’t know my catchment area crowd!)
- Browse our art gallery featuring paintings and photography provided by the Wisconsin Visual Artists’ Guild (and available for purchase).
- Hold a meeting, class, celebration, or gathering in one of several conference rooms available to rent (starting at $25/half day) with FREE wi-fi.
- Attend a community event, such as our Warbird Rendezvous — a community fundraiser for our Never Forgotten Honor Flight. Through sales of commemorative merchandise and meal donations, the event aims to send several local veterans on the trip of a lifetime to Washington, D.C.
If you’re interested in keeping up with other CWA happenings, I invite you to follow us on Facebook.
There are a lot of options out there . . . Having a hometown airport truly is special for our region.
Give CWA a try — It’s easier from here!
Brian J. Grefe
Airport Director | Central Wisconsin Airport
Brian has been serving as Airport Director at Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA) since February 2016. Prior to CWA, he worked at airports in Aspen, CO, and in Duluth, MN. With his wife and two sons, he is now living in Rib Mountain. Email Brian Grefe.
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