Behind the Scenes at GPIA: Meet Michael Hingiss

Every guest at Glacier Park International Airport is protected by layers of security measures and special protocols- most of which passengers never see in action. “There are a lot of complex regulations. It’s my job to help everyone understand those,” says Michael Hingiss, Airport Security Coordinator for Glacier Park International Airport. “I try to get all those complexities into the Reader’s Digest format for everyone so it makes sense.”

Michael ensures that safety programs and procedures meet federal guidelines, manages security contracts for GPIA, works closely with local agencies, and controls security clearances for airport vendors and staff. As Security Coordinator, he is responsible for the safety of nearly 600,000 trips through GPIA made by staff members, visitors, guests and vendors at the airport.

Well prepared to manage the security of an organization like GPIA, Michael has a background in emergency management and law enforcement. He was ready for the ever-changing nature of airport security. “Every day is something different,” he says. “From folks who work in the airport to all the different airlines, it’s a lot of changing needs based on the season, the events going on, even the time of day makes a difference in where I am and what I am doing.”

Even with the changing demands of his job, Michael does find that some things are far too common. “Bags left unattended- and bear spray in luggage,” he says with a smile. “It’s a small, friendly airport, so people might feel okay leaving their bags in a corner for a while, but we always want to encourage keeping your things with you. And we understand carrying bear spray in this part of Montana, but luckily you won’t need it once you are at the airport.”

Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Michael and his wife- a Montana native herself- lived in central Montana. When opportunities arose in northwestern Montana, his family jumped at the chance to relocate. His first visit to Montana was on a high school trip via train, and he was inspired to come back years later. He encourages visitors to spend their time in the outdoors, in a kayak or in the Swan Valley. Michael recommends Ciao Mambo in Whitefish for dinner.