holiday travel

How Planes Get Ready During the Busy Holiday Season

NBC Universal, Inc.

Record-high passenger traffic on the horizon for Miami International Airport this holiday season. Getting flights in and out on time is key and there’s not a minute to waste.

Starting when the flight arrives, shocks under the wheels, and the countdown begins. They've got just 45-minutes to turn the plane around for its next flight.

Two minutes after arrival, the cabin door opens. At three minutes, the cargo door pops. A minute later, the first bags are on the belt, just as 180-passengers start deplaning.

"Our number one job is to turn an airplane and so speed is of the essence, it's so important. Everything we do is time," Radney Robertson, the American Airlines Reagan Airport Managing Director said.

Crews have to sort the bags and get the ones staying put to the carousel in 20 minutes.

On board, the final passengers step off and the ground crew steps on. Caterers and cleaning staff move fast. While underneath, the fuel truck is hooking up. In the cockpit, the arriving pilots are rotating out.

20 minutes after arrival, the next flight's passengers are already boarding.

As the next first officer does his inspection walk-around.

"What I'm here for is sort of that last, that last check to make sure that everything is the way it should be," Tom Arkwright, an American Airlines First Officer said.

10 minutes before departure, the cabin door closes and while travel is making a strong comeback, so is Covid. 

One passenger said, “I have to be nervous, but you got to live, right?”

Omicron is not deterring passengers but it has many taking extra precautions.

“I got some supplies so I'll be able to wipe stuff down,” one passenger said. 

“I get the third dose. Of course, not trying not to be where many people are,” another passenger said.

Contact Us