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Life at the airport

Looking at a cold winter landscape, a passenger waits for a flight Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, at Central Illinois Regional Airport while the thermometer registered -10 degrees. While American flights were canceled, Delta Airlines was still offering an escape to southern destinations.

BLOOMINGTON — Central Illinois Regional Airport wasn't affected after President Donald Trump ordered the grounding of 737 Max 8 and 9 commercial aircraft Wednesday, but a Twin City travel agency official urged residents to stay vigilant if they fly elsewhere.

"Get on the (airline) website, call your travel agent. The more proactive you are, the better off you'll be," said Tim Davis, vice president at Direct Travel Central Illinois, which operates an agency in Bloomington. "Hopefully these planes, which are usually tremendously safe, are back flying people again sooner rather than later."

Trump stopped all flights on the planes following the crash of an Ethiopian Air plane this week that killed 157 people. It was the second similar incident in a few months, raising questions about the aircraft's reliability.

Though American Airlines uses the planes, they're not used for flights to and from Central Illinois Regional Airport, said Fran Strebing, deputy director of marketing for the Bloomington facility.

"We do not host this aircraft at Central Illinois Regional Airport and therefore it will not have an impact on any of the flights in and out of here," she said. "Allegiant and Frontier both fly Airbus-manufactured aircraft, and Delta and American fly Bombardier- and Embraer-manufactured aircraft."

Davis said airlines that use the planes will be in touch with customers, as will agencies. He noted flyers may be able to see which plane is planned for their flight by checking "equipment" in the itinerary on their airline's website.

"We're going through queues to see who needs to be moved," he said. "To me, you always take the safer option, especially when it comes to aviation."

Kim Morine, owner of Honeymoon Headquarters travel agency in Bloomington, said she had a customer ask Tuesday to be moved from a flight that used a 737 Max, and airlines have been accommodating about requests.

"I tell people it's their call. If they want to make changes, we make changes. ... It's a personal opinion whether you want to choose to fly on that," she said. "History has shown that when things like this happen, it becomes a better time to travel on those sorts of aircraft because they're going over them with a fine-tooth comb."

Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh

Normal and McLean County Reporter