Airports and TSA bracing for Super Bowl travelers
Long before the final matchup was set for Super Bowl LIV on February 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, South Florida airports and security officials were making game plans.
The task: deal with record-setting numbers of arriving and departing fans.
FLL, MIA and PBI Airports ready.
At Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL), which is about 18 miles from the stadium, signage for the big game adorns doors, walls, columns, and baggage belt areas.
“There won’t be a place on the airport where you won’t see some reference to the Super Bowl,” said airport spokesman Greg Meyer.
To prepare for and impress sports fans, many of whom may be visiting the airport and the area for the first time, FLL has put 160 live plants throughout the terminals and artificial greenery in the restrooms.
Teams are polishing terrazzo floors, shampooing the carpeting, pressure cleaning the sidewalks, scouring the restrooms and detailing the shuttles that run between the terminals and the rental car center.
“We do much of this cleaning normally,” said Meyer, “but doing it just prior to the game will make sure we look our best.”
Before and after the big game, FLL will have extra staff on duty and more than 60 volunteers on-site to help guests navigate through the airport.
Airport concessionaires are doing their part too. Store hours are extended hours and there’s plenty of official team and game gear for sale.
Magically, memorabilia to celebrate the winning team will be for sale immediately after the game.
MIA Airport ready too
“Miami International Airport is doing much the same,” said airport spokesman Greg Chin.
MIA is about 18 miles from Hard Rock Stadium and expects above-average passenger traffic on the three days prior to and the day after Super Bowl Sunday. On Monday, Feb 3, about 90,000 passengers are projected to depart MIA, which would be a single-day record for departures at the airport.
In addition to a pre-game facility spruce-up, MIA is adding some bonus features as well.
Through Super Bowl Sunday, MIA’s public address system will be playing rotating welcoming messages from three former All-Pros: Miami Dolphins legends Dan Marino, Nat Moore and Jason Taylor.
And through the end of February, travelers can view Duane Hanson’s iconic, hyperrealist sculpture, “Football Player” on the D Concourse, between Gates D47 and D48.
Also through the end of February, the Wolfson Moving Images exhibition on Concourse F is featuring archive video from past Miami Super Bowls and Miami Dolphins history on a set of old-style flight monitors.
Both FLL AND MIA also have detailed airport navigation information, arrival, and departure tips on their websites. Each airport also has important alerts about human trafficking, on the “Countdown to Takeoff Playbook” posted on their respective websites.
And passengers arriving before the Super Bowl on Thursday and Friday (1/30 and 1/31) at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), 58 miles from Hard Rock Stadium, will be greeted with special welcoming messages as well as giveaways and promotional items in the Bag Claim level.
Concessionaires at PBI are laying in the sports-themed memorabilia as well.
TSA gearing up for the game
During the Super Bowl week, TSA, local and county police departments, Customs and Border Protection, and other agencies will be adding extra teams and showing a hi-visibility presence at all area airports
And to help with the crush of fans leaving on February 3, some security checkpoints will open early at both FLL and MIA and additional checkpoints will stay open 24 hours.
While not all security precautions being taken can be shared, according to TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz, FLL will have 6 extra canine teams, additional support from Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) and the Broward Country Sheriff’s office, and 40 extra Transportation Security Officers on duty to help at checkpoints and baggage areas.
Koshetz says 10 additional TSA canine teams will also join the eleven TSA canine teams already at MIA. There will be 60 additional TSA Officers to augment the TSA Miami Officer staff and help keep additional checkpoint lanes open on throughout the day.
Follow the countdown plan
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the National Football League, hospitality organizations and the airports are encouraging passengers heading home after the game on February 3 to follow the “5-4-3-2-1” plan.
The campaign encourages travelers to check out of hotels 5 hours before departure flight time; to return rental cars 4 hours before their flights, and to check-in at the airline ticket counters 3 hours before their flights. TSA hopes travelers will go through security at least 2 hours before their flights and be at their gates an hour before flight time.
For security reasons, TSA is also asking Super Bowl travelers heading home after the big game to pack their commemorative programs in carry-ons, not in checked bags.
In previous years, the composition and thickness of these programs prevented TSA’s machines and human scanners from seeing beneath the booklets in checked bags, requiring those bags to alarm and be opened.
(My story about airports and TSA getting ready for Super Bowl fans first appeared on USA TODAY in a slightly different format.)