By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian
Upon their arrival at the North Central West Virginia Airport Thursday morning, passengers on an Allegiant Air flight from Sanford, Fla., to Bridgeport were instantly greeted with celebration.
West Virginia decorations, balloons, cookies and pepperoni rolls were waiting in the terminal for the passengers who were part of the first arrival flight from Florida to Bridgeport since the NCWV Airport announced it would be partnering with Allegiant to offer the twice-weekly flights between the two locations.
“We wanted to provide some West Virginia hospitality and welcome them,” Rick Rock, NCWV Airport director, said.
Rock said that passengers seemed to be pleased with the service.
“Just listening to the passengers talk, they’re so excited,” Rock said. “We think the inaugural flight from Florida to West Virginia was a great success.”
Among the passengers on the flight was Alberta Lipscomb, a travel agent at the Travel Emporium in Fairmont.
“That was the smoothest flight I’ve ever been on,” Lipscomb said.
Lipscomb was returning to Fairmont from her second home in Florida to anxiously await the arrival of her first great-grandchild. Aside from the fact that she experienced a significant drop in temperature from the time she boarded the plane to the time it landed in West Virginia, Lipscomb said she thoroughly enjoyed her trip.
Lipscomb said she and her family previously flew to Florida out of Huntington, and they are excited about the convenience the flights out of Bridgeport will now bring.
“It’s wonderful,” Lipscomb said. “I’m so glad they’re now flying right here into our own backyard. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
And while some people, like Lipscomb, were returning to their home state, others were arriving for a visit.
Carla Bostick, a Florida resident, flew into wild and wonderful West Virginia from the Sunshine State to give her longtime best friend Dawn Watson, who works in the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, a birthday surprise.
“I’m her present,” Bostick joked.
According to Rock, creating a way for local residents and out-of-state residents to reunite with friends and family and see new places is exactly what the service is intended to do.
“Everything seems to be running smoothly, and people seem to be happy,” Rock said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”
Also on Thursday, the NCWV Airport celebrated the departure of its first flight from Bridgeport to Sanford. Rock said the flight was nearly full, with 146 of 166 seats filled.
“For our first flight, we’re very happy with that,” he said.
Rock said the NCWV Airport is pleased to be able to provide the service to locals and visitors alike.
“For years we have listened to this community asking for a scheduled charter flight to sunny Florida. The NCWV Airport is delighted to now cross this goal off our list,” Rock said. “We are having this celebration at the terminal to commemorate the magic of this Allegiant flight making people’s dreams come true from West Virginia to Orlando/Sanford, Fla.”
Email Kaylyn Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.