Travel FAQ’s

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page. FAQs are categorized by topic. Please click on a topic to view questions and answers about Missoula International Airport.

General Airport Information

How early does the airport open?
The airport terminal is open 24-hours a day, however, each airline sets its own hours of operation which is dictated by its flight schedule. Please contact your airline directly to determine how early you can check-in for a flight. The security checkpoint closes after the last flight departs.

What address do I use to get driving directions from the internet?
Missoula International Airport
5225 Highway 10 West
Missoula, Montana 59808
Or, set your GPS units to MSO. You can also visit our Maps and Directions page for more information.

Does the airport close when the weather is bad?
Very infrequently. The runways are sometimes closed for maintenance or snow clearing operations. However, every effort is made to avoid disrupting your flight. MSO has made considerable investments in time and money for sophisticated Instrument Landing and Lighting Systems and fog-removal equipment to enhance the safety and on-time performance of our air carriers. Flight operations may cease during inclement weather, but all decisions regarding cancellations, resuming operations and re-booking passengers are up to the individual airlines.

What airlines currently provide service to Missoula?
Allegiant, Alaska, Delta, Frontier, and United. They offer direct service to 12 non-stop destinations and thousands of connecting flights to destinations across the US and abroad.

How can I find out about employment at the airport?
For information about job opportunities with airlines, Airport shops, Airport restaurants, rental car companies, Transportation Security Administration, and General Aviation companies, please contact the companies directly.
Missoula County Airport Authority employment opportunities are posted on this website under Job Opportunities.

How can I advertise in the passenger terminal?
MSO presents an excellent opportunity to advertise and market your product or service. Over 667,000 travelers and thousands of visitors pass through the Airport’s doors every year. For information, please contact us by phone at (406) 396-2111 or by email.

Are there any hotel accommodations at the airport?
There are no hotels on Airport property, however there are many hotels located only minutes away, and many offer courtesy shuttle service to and from MSO. To view a full listing of lodging options in and around the Missoula area, there is a Hotel/Taxi Courtesy Board located in our Baggage Claim area that offers a preprogrammed phone to local hotels/motels and transportation options, or visit the Missoula Downtown, Destination Missoula, or Glacier Country Tourism.

Arriving Passenger Information

What if my luggage is lost or damaged?
Missoula International Airport is not responsible for lost or damaged bags. You must resolve these issues with your airline. Be sure to save tickets and baggage tags until your bags are returned.

I need a rental car. What are my options?
Six rental car company courtesy counters are located in the main passenger terminal directly across from baggage claim, making it easy for you to grab your luggage and go. All rental car parking lots are conveniently located just outside the east terminal exit. In addition, all off-airport rental car companies are just minutes away from the terminal, and offer courtesy shuttle service. For more information, please visit our Rental Car page.

Does the Airport offer a Cell Phone lot where I can park for free and wait for my passenger?
The Missoula International Airport has a cell phone waiting lot at the entrance to the Credit Card Lot.

Where can I check on the status of an arriving flight?
Flight information can be found on the flight information displays, which are located in the main terminal, baggage claim, ticketing areas and concourses. Flight information can also be obtained by contacting the airline directly. You may also view from our Flight Information section.

Can I pick up an arriving passenger at the curbside?
Yes, however you must remain with your vehicle at all times. All unattended and/or unauthorized vehicles will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense. Missoula International Airport will not be responsible for damage or loss to any towed vehicle. Click here for more information.

Can I go out to the gate to meet an arriving passenger?
Only ticketed passengers are allowed beyond the security screening checkpoint. If you are meeting a person needing assistance or a minor traveling alone, you may go to the airline ticket counter and request a “gate pass.” Gate passes allow for one adult to meet an incoming passenger, require photo ID to obtain, and are issued at the discretion of the airline.

Departing Passenger Information

I bought my ticket online, what should I bring?
You will need your confirmation number and your picture ID. International flights may require additional identification, including a Passport. Contact your airline to be sure.

How early should I arrive at the airport?

Times vary depending on traffic loads. Under normal circumstances, you should arrive a minimum of 90 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time to allow for check-in and security screening. For the busy early morning departures, and between the hours of 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., please allow additional time. For holidays, including Christmas and Thanksgiving, allow up to 2 hours. Please check with your airline for current requirements for security checks and recommended arrival times. In addition, Missoula often experiences heavy traffic congestion during rush hours. A drive from the south side of Missoula to the airport can take 30 minutes or longer, so be sure to allow enough time to get to the airport.

What are the rules regarding carry-on luggage?
Carry-on requirements vary by carrier or aircraft type. Please contact your airline to inquire about carry-on luggage.

Do I need a photo ID to board my flight?
Yes, airlines and the Transportation Security Administration will normally require passengers to present a valid photo ID with signature.

Does my child need to show identification?
Children under the age of 18 traveling domestically usually do not need identification, however, as each airline has its own requirements, please contact your airline directly to confirm its ID requirement for minors. For international flights, anyone traveling to locations outside the United States is required to have a valid passport, regardless of age.

For more information about proper identification, please visit: 

What can I use for identification?
For a domestic flight, passengers age 18 and over must present one form of photo identification issued by a local, state or federal government agency (e.g. passport/drivers license/military ID), or two forms of non-photo identification, one of which must have been issued by a state or federal agency (e.g.: U.S. social security card). For an international flight, you will need to present a valid passport, visa, or any other required documentation. Passengers without proper ID may be denied boarding.

Can I go to the gate with a departing passenger?
Only ticketed passengers are allowed beyond the security screening checkpoint. If you are meeting a person needing assistance or a minor traveling alone, you may go to the airline ticket counter and request a “gate pass.” Gate passes allow for one adult to meet an incoming passenger, require photo ID to obtain and are issued at the discretion of the airline.

What if I lost my ticket?
Lost ticket policies vary according to the individual airline. Contact the airline you are flying with for specific information.

Security Information

Which carry-on items are currently prohibited?
Please view the current list of Prohibited Items from TSA.

I have a security related question, comment or complaint. Who do I contact?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for security checkpoints at Missoula International Airport. Any checkpoint security related comments should be directed to the TSA at, by phone at 1-866-289-9673, or via its web site at

Will the security screening damage my photographic film?
For more information about traveling with photographic film, please visit the Traveler Information page on the TSA website.

Do I need a boarding pass to get through security?
Yes. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that all passengers have a boarding pass and a photo ID to pass through the security checkpoint. Passengers will need to check in at the ticket counter or at one of the automated kiosks located at or near the ticket counters. Some airlines do issue boarding passes via the Internet.

Pets and Service Animals

Who do I contact to ship a pet as cargo?
There are several companies that handle pet transportation including the airlines and cargo handling companies.listed on this website.

Is a pet service animal relief area available?
A grassed-in Service Animal Relief Area is available in front of the main passenger terminal just outside baggage claim. The area is marked with a sign, and a pet waste bag dispenser and receptacle are available.

Terminal Information

Is there a Lost and Found service at the airport?
Yes. The Airport’s Department of Public Safety is in charge of our lost and found items in the terminal building. You may contact the Public Safety at (406) 728-4381 during business hours 8:30am-4:30pm. For items left or lost aboard an aircraft, contact your airline. If it is an emergency, please call 911.

How do I get to the airport?
Missoula International Airport is only minutes from downtown Missoula and is easily accessible from Highway 10 West and the I-90 Airway Boulevard interchange. Several hotels provide shuttles, and Mountain Line public transportation offers scheduled bus service to MSO. Please see our Maps and Directions page for more information on getting to and from MSO.

Where can I leave my luggage?
You must keep luggage with you at all times. Unattended baggage will be removed and impounded.

Are there lockers or a baggage check location to store my luggage at the airport?
No. Due to current security regulations, there are no lockers or baggage check areas in the Missoula Airport terminal. You must keep all checked luggage with you until it is accepted by the airline, and carry on pieces with you at all times. Pay-per-use Smarte Carts are located throughout the terminal to assist you.

Is there a currency exchange at MSO?
Missoula International Airport does not provide currency exchange.

Are there any ATM’s located at the airport?

Yes. A co-op network bank ATM is located on the main level of the passenger terminal in the corridor between baggage claim and the Airport Restaurant and Lounge.  An additional ATM is located on the upper level of the Airport across from the coffee shop.

Is smoking allowed at MSO?
In accordance with Montana law, Missoula International Airport is a smoke free facility. Smoking is not permitted within 25 feet of the passenger terminal entrances.

Is wireless internet access available in the terminal?
Free Wi-Fi Internet access is available throughout the terminal, however the Wi-Fi signal is strongest near the upper level departure gates.

Parking at MSO

What other parking options are available, and how much does it cost?
Please see our Parking and Treansportation page for a list of parking options at Missoula International Airport.

Are there any free parking options available at MSO?
Yes, the first 15 minutes are free in the short-term and long-term parking lots, as well as the Credit Express lot. In addition, The Airport Restaurant and Lounge will validate up to 3 hours of parking ($4.00 minimum purchase required).

Why does MSO have to charge for parking?
Other airports might generate revenue for infrastructure improvements through local taxes. Revenues generated from parking at MSO are used to support maintenance and service of the parking lots and airport facilities. Republic Parking operates the parking service at Missoula International Airport and fees are charged in order to better serve our customers. Our parking rates are very competitive with other airports throughout the region.

Can I park my car in front of the terminal?
People may pull up in front of the terminal to drop off or pick up passengers, however leaving your vehicle unattended for any length of time is strictly prohibited. All unattended and/or unauthorized vehicles will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense. Missoula International Airport will not be responsible for damage or loss to any towed vehicle.

Can I leave my bicycle at the airport?
Yes. Bicycle racks are provided on the east side of the main terminal near the rental car exit doors.


I’ve heard we lose a lot of passengers to other airports in the region, such as Spokane?
The latest Passenger Demand Analysis found that 93% of Missoula travelers originated their journey from Missoula International Airport. Only 5% chose Spokane, and the remaining 2% chose to fly out of Glacier International Airport in Whitefish. These numbers indicate Missoula has excellent air carrier service, and will continue to be more competitive as new or expanded service is added. Although we do lose a few passengers to other airports in the region, it is not at all a situation that is unique to Missoula. It occurs at airports all over the country. All airports have what the industry refers to as “leakage”. While some Missoula residents may choose to fly out of another airport such as Spokane or Glacier, keep in mind those airports experience leakage to other cities as well, such as to Seattle, and even Missoula.

Can you tell me how much it costs to fly in to or out of Missoula?

The Missoula County Airport Authority does not determine ticket prices, and as such is unable to provide airfare information. We suggest you contact the airlines, a travel agent, or use an online travel agency to obtain airfare and seat availability information.

Why can’t I get a direct flight to the city of my choice?
In 1978 the airline industry was deregulated and many of the airlines went to a more efficient method of doing business. Most established a routing method using a “hub and spoke” system using key cities as hubs where all the flights converged from the smaller airports. This method allows customers to reach the widest possible choice of destinations with only one transfer and utilizes the airline’s equipment in a more productive way. On a given day several thousand people fly in and out of Missoula International. With many major carriers serving MSO, travelers can reach hundreds of destinations with just one connection. MSO continues to work with air carriers to evaluate potential new markets.

Why are we called MSO? Shouldn’t it be MIA?
MSO is the three-letter location identifier assigned to Missoula International Airport. While MIA would seem to make more sense, that code is already assigned to Miami International Airport. The three letter identification system was first introduced in the 1930’s. Airports that were already in existence at the time simply placed an X after the local weather station code. For example, Los Angeles became LAX, and Portland, Oregon became PDX. The identifier for the landing strip at Kitty Hawk is FFA, for First Flight Airport.

How many runways does MSO have, and how long are they?
Missoula International Airport has two runways. Runway 11/29 is the primary commercial service runway with a length of 9,501 feet, while Runway 7/25 is the shorter general aviation crosswind runway with a length of 4,612 feet. To offer a comparison with other runways around the country:

 Airport  Longest Runway
 • Denver International  16R/34L – 16,000 ft
 • Seattle Sea-Tac  16L/34R – 11,901 ft
 • Boise Air Terminal  10L/28R – 10,000 ft
 • Missoula International  11/29 – 9,501 ft
 • San Diego International  09/27 – 9,401 ft
 • Fort Lauderdale  09L/27R – 9,000 ft
 • Omaha Eppley Airfield  14R/32L – 9,499 ft

Local maps show four runways at MSO. Why?

When Missoula International Airport was originally constructed, it actually had four physical runways: Runway 02/20, Runway 16/34, Runway 11/29, and Runway 07/25. While the latter two remain fully operational today, Runways 2/20 and 16/34 were closed in the 1980’s. Why were they closed? Aircraft need to take off and land into the wind as much as practical. Wind generally blows through the Missoula Valley in an east-west direction, and since Runways 02/20 and 16/34 were more or less oriented in a north-south direction, the winds usually didn’t favor their use. In addition, the threshold for both of these runways intersected at a point where the new Airport Public Safety building was to be constructed. As a result, the last planes landed on 02/20 and 16/34 in the 1980’s, however the remains of these runways are still clearly visible from the air.

Are there plans to extend or build new runways?
The Airport Master Plan recommends the preservation of land should operational demands require the construction of a new runway 29L/11R, which would be located south of the existing primary runway. The new runway would also include necessary taxiways, runway lights, approach lighting systems, and navigation equipment. This project would be developed based on operational needs, public input, environmental impact studies, and availability of funding.

Missoula’s runways are designated 11/29, and 7/25. Why?
Runways are numbered according to the magnetic direction in which they point, rounded to the nearest ten degrees, and then divided by ten. Each digit is pronounced separately for clarity in radio communications. For example, Runway “two-nine” would be aligned in roughly a 290 degree heading, while runway “one-one” is about 110 degrees. Missoula’s other two runways are 7 and 25, which are aligned roughly 70 and 250 degrees respectively.

We can’t land a Boeing 747 in Missoula, can we?
Yes, MSO can easily accommodate 747’s, as well as most other wide-body aircraft. Normally, the critical aircraft operation is take-off. The runway length required is based on: 1) weight of aircraft, 2) temperature, and 3) elevation. With the runway length and elevation being givens, the remaining factors, weight of aircraft and temperature, will be used to determine the distance the aircraft can fly non-stop. Each airline has different criteria regarding aircraft operations under conditions present at the time of flight. The type of aircraft that typically arrive at Missoula International Airport include Boeing 737’s, McDonnell Douglas MD-80’s, Canadair Regional Jets, Airbus A320’s, DeHaviland Dash 8’s, and various cargo aircraft and general aviation planes. The airport is also the home of the largest aerial firefighting depot in the United States, so we frequently see many specialized firefighting aircraft and helicopters. In addition, MSO’s entire air carrier ramp was recently removed and replaced with over 5 feet of reinforced concrete, capable of handling just about any plane in operation today.

How many planes take-off and land each day at MSO?
The Airport currently averages over 160 daily aviation operations. An operation can be either a take-off or a landing. This includes passenger and cargo carriers, helicopters, general aviation, charter flights and military aircraft. This number however can rise significantly during the summer months when aircraft are engaged in aerial wildfire or Smokejumper operations.

What are the strobe lights I saw from I-90 at the Wye?
This is the approach lighting system for Runway 11. The system consists of sequenced strobe lights mounted on towers, as well as 45 steady burning white lights and a row of green threshold lights at the edge of the runway. The system is used to guide pilots to our runway as they transition from instruments to visual flight during periods of low visibility. In addition, a Precision Approach Path Indicator, or PAPI, is located on the left side of the runway. The PAPI uses red and white lights to indicate to the pilot if he is too high, too low, or on the correct glide path.?

What is the rotating light on the control tower for?
The rotating beacon on top of the Missoula Control Tower is used to indicate the airport’s location to pilots at night. It produces flashes not unlike that of a lighthouse. The beacon at MSO rotates at a constant speed that produces the visual effect of flashes at regular intervals. During VFR weather conditions, the beacon operates dusk to dawn, but during IFR conditions, the beacon stays on constantly regardless of light conditions.