LONDONDERRY — Eight o’clock on a Tuesday morning and the regional aviation hub that is Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is lacking the hubbub air travelers typically encounter across the nation.
There are a dozens of empty parking spaces in the A lot out front of the terminal.
People walk right up to the airline counter for check-in, then meander, coffee in hand, through the concourses, and leisurely view the arrivals and departures board.
Travelers appear relaxed, not stressed.
By airport standards, this is a spa treatment.
The Manchester-Boston Regional Airport experience is why people say the airport is one of “603 Reasons” that make New Hampshire special.
“It’s very convenient; it’s a nice, small airport,” said Brenda Urban, working the information booth for the Granite State Ambassadors, the volunteer tourism group that helps people find their way around the state.
“Most people like the smallness of the airport. They don’t get lost going from point A to point B,” she said. “That’s why most people like it.”
Urban will interact with as many as 150 people during the day at the booth or in her rounds of the terminal.
Driver Alfredo Diaz’s limo is parked curbside. He hears about the airport from his customers.
“They like the convenience and that it is close to everything,” Diaz said. “They like it and they look forward to coming back.”
Susan Vaillancourt of Fitchburg has driven her father, Tom Chaplin, in from Massachusetts for his flight to Florida. She has her own trip upcoming later this month and will fly from Manchester herself.
“It’s easy in and easy out. Everybody is so less stressed,” Vaillancourt said. They are hospitable. The parking is great. You can’t really get lost.”
Her father said he won’t fly out of Logan Airport in Boston.
“I don’t like the traffic,” Chaplin said.
Elaine Cullen of Rochester feels the same way.
“It’s better than going to Logan,” Cullen said.
Brenda Bernal is a supervisor with Hudson News, which operates stores at the terminal.
“I think people are a little more relaxed here. They don’t have all the commotion of the bigger airports,” Bernal said. “I personally like the airport because it’s small and quaint as an airport can be.”
Quaint includes the moose sculpture near the front door. But there’s also a New Hampshire Lottery kiosk.
Lindsay Morand is shopping at Hudson News, waiting for a flight to California and 80-degree weather.
Morand is the grand niece of author E.B. White, who wrote “Charlotte’s Web.” She has traveled 40 minutes from Townsend.
“This is so convenient. It’s easy to have my husband drop me at the front door and in I go,” Morand said. “It’s not big like Boston.”
Morand likes the direct route into the terminal from the highway via the airport access road.
She travels a lot as a caretaker for her famous uncle’s legacy and puts Manchester-Boston Regional at the top of her list of airports.
“Number one,” Morand said.
Tina Pike has driven her daughter, Hannah, and her grandson Deklan, from Troy for a flight to North Carolina.
“This is a lot more smoother,” Pike said of the airport. “Everything is labeled really well.”
Trenny Robb and Bob Michaud have traveled a couple of hours from Sutton, Vt., for a trip to Los Angeles.
“This is pretty handy for us,” Robb said. “This is much easier.”
Michaud likes the absence of a crowd.
“Look,” he says, gesturing around the terminal. “Nobody is here today.”
But that’s not always the case. An estimated 2.5 million passengers use the airport every year.
Southwest Airlines is the biggest passenger carrier, but other airlines, including United and Delta, serve the airport.
A look at the arrivals and departures board yesterday showed flights bound for major destinations including Orlando, Detroit, Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.
There are 40 to 50 daily departures.
“I am not at all surprised that Manchester-Boston Regional Airport made the list,” airport director Mark Brewer said. “The airport is an integral part of the community and region, providing not only economic benefits, but access to more than ‘603’ destinations across the globe.”
Brewer credits the attitude of the people who work at the airport, too.
“The sense of pride that is demonstrated each day by our employees and tenants helps to create a great atmosphere and travel experience for our guests,” Brewer said.
Donald Jorgensen, one of Londonderry’s representatives to the Manchester Airport Authority, said he’s not surprised people say the airport is one of the reasons that makes New Hampshire special.
“Absolutely no surprise at all,” Jorgensen said. “The airport is a vibrant economic engine that provides a wonderful service to the community, and by community, I mean that it goes down to Massachusetts as well.”
Studies have estimated the airport is responsible for more than 3,800 jobs and $1 billion in economic activity.
“It is extraordinarily well run and drives so many jobs,” Jorgensen said.
Patrick Herlihy, the state’s director of aeronautics, said the airport is not just about moving people.
“It provides employment and economic opportunities for New Hampshire citizens and businesses and has the third largest cargo shipments among airports in New England,” Herlihy said.
He praised the airport staff for working to bring passengers to the airport through regional transit connections.
Herlihy sees what travelers see.
“The Manchester airport does provide all the amenities those travelers spoke of. It’s convenient to get to, has great parking facilities with free shuttle service to the terminal, and has great facilities inside the terminal that meet travelers’ needs,” Herlihy said.