By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)– Travel issues at Denver International Airport were felt by thousands this week, from the Southwest ticket counter to long-term parking lots. The holidays are approaching and DEN is one of the busiest airports in the country. This week’s travelers wonder if they’ll face the same issues in the coming months.

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“This is the third Southwest flight I’ve flown recently and normally they’re the best airline. It was a totally different experience than usual,” said Lauren, a frequent flyer. “The staff just seemed tired and frustrated.”

Lauren, Jason and their son flew into Denver for a family birthday. They spent longer waiting for crucial luggage than expected.

“Getting off the flight, normally the stroller is there right when you get off the plane. We had to wait an hour, just standing right outside the airplane,” explained Lauren. “The pilot had to go down himself and get the stroller.”

They’re grateful for the pilot who went above and beyond, but it became clear the pandemic’s effect on air travel is ongoing.

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“We are experiencing staffing challenges, anything from our concessionaires to our shuttle bus drivers. We are looking to fill positions, especially before we hit the holiday season and traffic increases,” said Alex Renteria, spokesperson at Denver International Airport.

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DEN has hosted two job fairs recently and Renteria says those have shown to be successful, but they’re still looking to fill positions. DEN is hosting another job fair on October 23 for concessionaires located at Mile High Field.

“We can be honest and say to passengers that if they’re traveling during peak times, they may have to wait in a longer line than they’re used to. That is just a reality we are facing right now, until we can beef up our staff,” said Renteria.

DEN says it’s doing everything in its power to ensure that if the lines are long, they go quickly. Or that passengers are at least aware they may be waiting in a long line. The airport is strategically placing more employees throughout the terminal to help people navigate.

Renteria says there’s welcome news for travelers who’ve become accustomed to taking extra steps around construction.

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“Before Thanksgiving, those construction walls in the middle of the terminal on level five and level six will be removed. Now you’ll be able to walk straight through, which will help passengers quickly get to the checkout counters and the baggage claim,” said Renteria.

Despite the promised progress, the hassle families like Lauren’s have endured while navigating DEN have been enough to alter holiday plans.

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“Honestly, with how everything is this year, it makes us more interested in staying home.
Traveling used to be a lot more fun,” said Lauren.

Tori Mason