TRAVERSE CITY — Northern lower Michigan's summertime seductiveness hit Micah Norris like a hammer, and he couldn't resist snapping pictures as his plane descended into Cherry Capital Airport.
"Traverse City is really, really pretty this time of year," Norris said.
Norris, who grew up in the area, flew in from Los Angeles this week for a family reunion on Long Lake. He eagerly anticipated a week and a half of family fun and relaxation.
Norris is among more than 100,000 people who will pass through Traverse City's airport this summer. Airlines are sending larger airplanes to Cherry Capital Airport this year, allowing nearly 5 percent more people to visit than last summer.
Airport director Kevin Klein said the seats have been full, and he attributes the increase to Traverse City's soaring popularity.
"We're really that destination, not only with the festivals, but people want to come and vacation in the area because of all the accolades we're receiving," Klein said. "The word is out that people want to come and visit."
Klein said there's been about a 50 percent growth in airline customers finding their way here from the Dallas, Texas area over the last three years. Many are drawn to golfing in the Gaylord area, he said.
"Who would blame them for coming out of that hot humidity heat and getting them up here?" Klein said. He said the area's long daylight hours allow golfers to play from nearly 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Airlines are offering 105,981 seats out of Traverse City from June to the end of August this year, an increase of 4.7 percent from last year. In 2013, there were 94,463 seats offered during that time.
Klein said there are 30 flights in and 30 flights out of the airport a day on summer weekends. Airlines add additional service to places like Atlanta, Newark and New York during the summer.