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Solving Travel Mysteries

October 26, 2023

In honor of spooky season, we’re answering some of the biggest mysteries around air travel like what happens if I don’t put my phone on airplane mode and what exactly does an airport do, anyway? Read on to see these mysteries get solved and to help make sure your next flight from MLI is all treats, no tricks.

What happens if I don’t put my phone in airplane mode?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prioritizes safety above all else so if there’s a chance something could be harmful to a flight, there’s going to be a rule or policy for it. Enter cell phone usage. Cell phone use during flight may cause interference as pilots are trying to communicate with air traffic control. Is that something we want to mess up, even if it’s a slim chance? With 5G expanding across the U.S. there are additional concerns about its impact on instrumentation in the cockpit of certain types of aircraft during low visibility. All that’s to say, the plane will still fly but it’s always better to be safe than sorry when you’re flying 30,000+ ft in the air at 300+ mph. And, always follow all flight crew instructions.

Can you fly without identification?

Yes, with a caveat. If your ID is lost, damaged or if you forgot it at home, a TSA officer will likely ask you to go through a more in-depth identity verification process. If your identity can be confirmed based on the information you provided, you will be able to continue through the checkpoint, but you will also be subjected to additional screening including a pat-down and screening of your carry-on bags. Make sure your ID is at the top of your packing list but know that there are other options if it gets left behind.

What is TSA looking for?

It’s hard to remember the days before TSA and more stringent security screening. But what items can fly and what items can’t remain one of the biggest passenger mysteries. In short, TSA is looking for anything that could pose a threat to the aircraft or passengers. This includes, but is not limited to, firearms, large liquids, lithium batteries or other items that could be used as weapons. Be sure to check “What Can I Bring?” on TSA’s website so there are no surprises at the checkpoint.

Why doesn’t MLI have flights to [fill in the blank]?

Airlines call the shots when it comes to adding flights. One of the key things they’re looking for includes regional growth both in population and new business. The types of industries in the area and average household income also play a role. Airlines have to be confident that a region is healthy enough to fill their planes. They also have their own business outlook to consider including availability of planes and crew, strategic growth plans and financial stability. Airports help bridge the gap between an airline and a community. We are statisticians, storytellers and advocates who try to influence airline decisions. If an airline is on the fence about a market, we can also provide incentives that may tip the scale in our favor. But it’s never a guarantee, especially if the regional economic data isn’t there to back it up. The best thing you can do is show the airlines you want more options in the Quad Cities by flying MLI as often as you can.

What exactly does an airport do?

This is perhaps the biggest mystery of all that passengers don’t even know to ask. Quick pop quiz:

Airports are responsible for:

  1. Lost baggage
  2. Cost of airfare
  3. Routes
  4. Temperature of the airplane cabin
  5. All of the above
  6. None of the above.

You might be surprised to learn that the answer is F) None of the above. Airports provide the infrastructure for airlines, retailers, rental car companies, etc. to operate out of. Think of it like a shopping mall. There is one large building that stores operate out of. The owner of the building doesn’t decide which stores rent a space, what merchandise is sold or how much the merchandise costs. The airport, like the owner of the mall building, is most similar to a landlord, not an airline. We are responsible for the building, airfield and land, ensuring all of it is maintained and secure. We also have a responsibility to make sure the fees we charge to tenants are fair and in line with our peers, that we are operating efficiently, and are good stewards of revenue and funds we receive from the FAA, state and local taxpayers.

There you have it, some of air travel’s biggest mysteries. What’s not a mystery? Flying out of MLI is quick and easy, with friendly staff here to help you each step of the way.

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