Those big ol' jet airliners made an impressive return to the Rogue Valley last month.

While United Airlines struggled with public relations issues in other ports of call, the return of its mainline Boeing 737s helped spur the Medford airport to its best April ever.

A total of 66,815 travelers passed through the airport gates, surpassing the previous April standard of 61,099 set a year ago. The 9.4 percent passenger gain pushed the Jackson County facility 3.4 percent ahead of 2016's record pace.

"We were up nearly 10 percent, and the larger aircraft from United had a lot to do with it," Airport Director Bern Case said. "Some people just prefer the larger aircraft and that gave us a boost."

Although United Express still runs regional jets between Medford and the Bay Area, as well as Denver, the bigger jets handle much of the load between San Francisco and the Rogue Valley.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air had a big bounce as well, jumping 29.3 percent, while Alaska Airlines, whose West Coast connections account for nearly half of the airport's passengers, saw 8.6 percent growth.

Even though the 18 daily departures are two fewer than a year ago, Case said seating capacity has grown 19 percent to 2,928 per day from 2,464.

"I think the economy is still our main driver, and things are still looking good," Case said. "I think business travel is creeping up."

Allegiant resumes seasonal service to Mesa, Arizona today. Coupled with American Eagle connections to Phoenix Sky Harbor and Los Angeles International beginning June 2, Medford will have service to nine airports in eight cities.

TSA Pre-Check proved popular enough during an 11-day run in April, registering 1,324 travelers, that a second round has been scheduled for May 30 through June 10. Registration provides a quicker route through airport security for five years. The cost is $85. Call 1-855-347-8371 or go to to set up an appointment.

 — Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him on Twitter at, on Facebook at