INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis International Airport (IND) officials are advising travelers to arrive early this weekend as they anticipate it will be among the busiest fall break travel periods ever.
“We’re expecting to see a lot of happy families, a lot of happy travelers,” said IND Executive Director, Mario Rodriguez. “It brings joy to all of us that work here.”
The airport is anticipating more than 17,000 passengers will fly out of Indianapolis on Friday, and nearly 18,000 will fly out on Saturday.
These numbers are based on projections provided by the federal Transportation Security Administration.
“We’ve only seen that level of passenger traffic a handful of times since the new terminal opened in 2008,” said Keith Berlen, the Indianapolis Airport Authority’s senior director of operations and public safety. “So this weekend is on track to be one of the busiest, and it’s important for travelers to plan accordingly.”
Rodriguez said there may be several reasons for this surge in travel airport officials are expecting this weekend.
“It’s a transformative period, people are traveling more, we’ve brought in every low-cost carrier,” he said. “Remember, there’s a lot of pent-up demand. We’ve been stuck at home for the last two years and everyone wants to travel and enjoy.”
Rodriguez said as passengers arrive at IND, noticeable precautions against COVID-19 remain in place, including hand sanitizer stations, signs reminding that masks are mandatory, and more.
“Federal mask regulation is still in place for every federal transportation system including rail and including airplanes,” he said. “The airport right now is as close to hospital grade clean as you could get, without being hospital grade.”
In Aug., TSA extended a federal requirement that travelers must wear masks on commercial flights, buses and trains through Jan. 18.
“In medicine, we are doing our very best to try and educate everybody about the importance of masking and being careful,” said Dr. Graham Carlos, Chief of Medicine at Eskenazi Health. He added, “particularly if you’re at high risk for a COVID infection.”
“We fully expect things to open back up and we want people to travel and see people they love and enjoy their life we want them to do it carefully and cautiously,” said Carlos. “We all need to also live our lives and see our loved ones and that’s not lost on us in healthcare either. It’s when people throw caution to the wind that it becomes frustrating.”
He said they are still seeing people in the hospital system that are critically ill with COVID-19 and he hopes people don’t let their guard down.
“The daily numbers, the test positivity, those numbers are dropping, and I believe that holds true across the state and the Midwest,” said Carlos. “There are some signs that things are getting better, but same time, people are still getting sick.”
With many Hoosiers returning back to the state after heading to their destinations for a trip, healthcare professionals recommend using caution and following COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s just important for people to understand that a tight, closed cabin in an airplane is one of your highest risks for transmission,” said Carlos. “Going to destinations and being outside and things like that, there’s some concern there. I just keep preaching caution, care, vaccinated there is your best protection.”
Hoosier Hailey Griffo left IND Thursday to head on vacation to Florida with family. She said she felt “pretty safe” as she arrived for her trip.
“I’m just glad everyone is wearing their mask. I have not seen one person not wearing their mask which is good,” said Griffo.
She’s also looking forward to her family’s annual trip to the Sunshine State, where she’ll get to see her grandmother.
“I feel like it just gives everyone a break from work or just worrying about what’s happening and everything,” said Griffo.
People flying between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. are expected to be the most impacted. People flying during that time period are advised to arrive at least two hours early.
“Make sure you go on the websites of the airlines for any changes. There’s a lot of flights coming in and out of here in the morning,” said Rodriguez.
The Indy airport also strongly encourages travelers to sign up for TSA PreCheck at https://www.tsa.gov/precheck for a smoother screening process, which eliminates the need to remove shoes, belts, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops or light jackets.
TSA checkpoint A opens at 3:30 a.m. and checkpoint B opens at 4:15 a.m. Hoosiers can process through either TSA checkpoint and proceed to their gate. TSA PreCheck is only available on checkpoint A. Airline ticket counters opening time varies, but generally they open two hours before flight departure.
BEFORE LEAVING FOR THE AIRPORT
- Always check flight status with the airline prior to arriving at the airport
- Arrive a full two-hours ahead of the departure time to get checked in, get through security, and to the gate in plenty of time before boarding call.
- Download the airline’s mobile app for all pertinent travel update
- Use a mobile boarding pass or print boarding passes ahead of time
- Download the MyTSA app for 24/7 access to the most frequently requested airport security information, including helpful tips for preparing for security, including a searchable database of items that can and can’t go in checked or carry-on bags.
- Pack smart – check for prohibited items and follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Learn more at: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips/refresh-your-memory-liquid-rules
- Bring/wear a face mask – Complimentary face masks are available at Guest Services in the terminal, and the federal mask requirement at airports and on aircraft and public transportation has been extended until January 2022.
- Learn more about COVID-19 health and safety measures at www.ind.com/covid19
- If needed, COVID-19 testing is available at IND. To learn more, visit: www.ind.com/covid19testing
PLAN AHEAD FOR PARKING
- For help determining parking options at IND, visit https://www.ind.com/parking
- For a contactless parking experience at IND, register for the free parkIND plus program https://www.ind.com/parking/parkind-plus-program
- Valet parking is back and offers the closest proximity to the pedestrian walkway to the terminal. To learn more, visit https://www.ind.com/parking/valet