Students advise on Norfolk Airport travel

Featured Image: Sophomore Molly Brennan reunites with her godsister at the Norfolk Airport for Thanksgiving. Molly Brennan|Courtesy

After receiving the ranking of fifth most canceled arriving flights, students speak on their experiences navigating ORF.

Students travel from near and far to attend Virginia Wesleyan, and for those who live beyond a driving distance away, the Norfolk International Airport (ORF) has become a familiar place.

According to The Virginian Pilot, the airport recently received the ranking of fifth worst in the U.S. for canceled arriving flights.

Ricardo Rosas, junior and an employee at the Norfolk Airport, said that based on his observations, this does not need to warrant any worry from the Marlins flying with ORF this winter.

Rosas’s job consists primarily of assisting passengers in wheelchairs, so he interacts frequently with ORF travelers.

Rosas said that while delays and cancellations do occur, he has noticed that this most often revolves around weather issues and is not usually on Norfolk’s end. “There could be some issues going on with other states’ airports’ departures,” Rosas said.

Holiday season or not, Rosas emphasized arriving at the airport an hour early at the very least. “TSA can be very packed,” Rosas said.

As holiday travel season commences, seasoned travelers of the airport share experiences, as well as provide tips and tricks to navigating the trip home and back.

Junior Lauren Bible said she has used the Norfolk Airport at least 20 times. Bible resides in California, spanning three time zones away from Virginia.

Despite needing to travel often, Bible is not a fan. “Most experiences aren’t great in general because of possible delays, long lines and long travel time,” Bible said. 

As for ORF, Bible said, “I think a couple of times my flights have gotten delayed from the Norfolk airport, but most airlines have delayed flights so it’s not out of the normality.” Bible also emphasized double-checking gate numbers.

Bible expressed the inevitable exhaustion that comes with coast-to-coast travel, as it takes nearly an entire day. “It’s definitely hard with the time difference and the amount of time it takes to travel from Virginia to California,” Bible said.

As for tips, Bible said, “I like to pack as little as possible, so security is faster for my turn, and it’s not too much to carry.” 

After so many trips, Bible has experience in packing efficiently. “I normally try to bring layers, because it can get cold on a flight, and always bring charger cords and portable chargers, because sometimes they don’t have outlets,” she said. 

Andrew Taylor, alumnus and graduate student at VWU, said he has used the Norfolk Airport upwards of 30 times and has little negative feedback. Taylor also expressed his surprise at its ranking for canceled flights.

According to Taylor, ORF’s biggest issue is “ground crew and baggage delivery.”

Taylor broke down the experiences he’s had, particularly surrounding luggage problems. “There are times where your luggage won’t come out [from the luggage carousel] for an hour or two depending on the time of day and ground crew,” Taylor said. 

When departing from Norfolk, he said, “If you have connecting flights, your bags may not make it to your destination when you do.”

However, Taylor offered advice on how to avoid the stress. “During the holidays, if you can help it, don’t check a bag unless you are taking a direct flight. If it is a connection, it may cause you some stress,” Taylor said.

He said that “a backpack and a nice carry-on duffle” should be sufficient in fitting the essentials.

Sophomore Leif Simons offered his insight as a student who travels to and from his home in Wisconsin. “I normally go home for fall and Christmas breaks so I’ve flown through ORF a handful of times,” Simons said. “It’s a relatively small airport compared to the other ones I’ve experienced and I think it’s one of the easiest airports to navigate. Every time I’ve gone, the USO staff and security have been friendly and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an issue at ORF.”

He said he prefers traveling by plane over car or train. “I save a lot of time, and they can be similarly priced when thinking about gas costs,” Simons said.

Simons echoed the advice of the others. “Make sure to account for a wait through the security checkpoint and make sure to frequently check the screens as sometimes flights change gates last minute,” Simons said.

In other news for the airport, WAVY reported on its long-term plan of implementing a new terminal and adding destinations. The article explained that construction will begin mid-2025 for this large-scale project.

Other notable changes include the airport’s approval for an on-site hotel, which is predicted to break ground within a year, as reported in September by WTKR.

Rosas also said that ORF plans to bring back the moving walkways that they removed years ago due to maintenance issues. The same WTKR article said that this was a highly requested feature and is predicted to be completed in 2024.

Based on information from WAVY, the airport is on track to surpass its all-time passenger record this year, and these expansion plans intend to reflect their growth.


By Lily Reslink