Airport Braces for Pope’s Visit

Plus: City's anxiety becomes a national story

Some good news in all those panic-inducing stories about preparations for the pope’s visit: USA Today reports the Philadelphia International Airport seems to be on pace in its readiness for the influx of travelers it expects that weekend.

“We are talking with airlines that service PHL about their anticipated passenger loads. As of now we expect an estimated 20 percent to 25 percent more passengers than usual,” said airport spokeswoman Mary Flannery. “This would be comparable to a very busy Thanksgiving.”

Airport employees are getting voluntary refresher classes in how to deal with stressed-out travelers. It’s also adding Vietnamese and Polish translating services to the roster of languages it already serves. Volunteers from the World Meeting of Families will also be available at the airport.

CEO Mark Gale said in a statement: “We want to help prepare our staff on the front line to provide a level of hospitality that is top notch and a first-class experience that will leave visitors with a positive, upbeat impression of Philadelphia and the entire region.”

Meanwhile, the story of Philly’s anxiety about papal preparations has become national news, thanks to a feature from AP. Officials are now trying to calm the fears.

“Security plans are fluid and continue to evolve,” Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback told the wire service. “As soon as the plans have been settled on by all of the many partners involved in the planning process, we will jointly share the final plans.”

Officials promise a “Papal Visit Playbook” is coming soon.

“We’re all eager to put the rumors to rest and put the information out there,” said World Meeting Executive Director Donna Crilley Farrell. “But as the mayor said, it has to be the correct information.”