Sports

IND Airport welcomes NCAA fans with art, music, and more

College basketball fans arriving at Indianapolis International Airport (IND) this week will find some special art, music, food, and exhibits, courtesy of the city’s trademark Hoosier Hospitality.

In addition to a custom-wrapped INDY car in the airport’s Civic Place, there are digital displays of cascading basketballs and the #LoveIndy statue for photo ops.

Eat, Drink and Shop


Pop-up retail stores in the pre-security Civic Plaza and Concourse B are selling NCAA apparel and gear, as are other retail stores throughout the terminal. And, for that special souvenir, Scoreboard, in Concourse A, is selling an Indiana University basketball made with Swarovski Crystal.

Hungry fans can stop in for the famous St. Elmo shrimp cocktail at Harry and Izzy’s or at Shapiro’s for local delicatessen eats. And the new Sun King Tap Room is serving its “Hoops There It Is” specialty beer – wheat ale with peach.

Art and music too

In partnership with the Arts Council of Indianapolis, 10 temporary murals featured work by local artists on vinyl are on display in Concourses A and B.

THe party doesn’t stop there. There will also be live music at IND on Fridays and Saturdays through April 3. And, thans to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, an exhibition of pieces from the National Art Museum of Sport (in Concourses A and B).

Denver International Airport’s Puppy Bowl

For the past five years, Denver International Airport (DEN) has been hosting its own version of the Super Bowl Puppy Bowl.

The event usually takes place in Jeppesen Terminal. But this year, like everything else, DEN’s 6th Annual Puppy Bowl will operate a bit differently.

Instead of being live in the terminal, the puppy playoff will be taking place offsite and broadcast live on Denver International Airport’s Facebook page.

This big game will take place on Friday, February 5 from 10 a.m. MST to 11 p.m. MST.

The mini football “stadium” will be filled with six Australian Shepherd puppies that will up for adoption on a first-come, first serve basis through Denver’s Dumb Friends League, a socially conscious animal welfare organization.

Cute, right?

Denver International Airport’s Puppy Bowl

Before this year’s Super Bowl kickoff, fans of football – and puppies – will be tuning in for Animal Planet’s 16th annual Puppy Bowl.

This year’s pre-Super Bowl event takes place at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb 3.

96 adoptable puppies from animal shelters around the country are lined up to play this year on Team Ruff and Team Fluff.

Comet – courtesy Animal Plante

But that’s not the only Puppy Bowl taking place this year.

Inspired by Animal Planet’s puppy-themed event, Denver International Airport will hold its own Puppy Bowl.

DEN’s event will take place in the center of the Jeppesen Terminal on Friday, January 31 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Adoptable puppies from Denver’s Dumb Friends League will play in Denver International Airports’ fifth Puppy Bowl. Members of DEN’s Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) will serve as “rufferrees”.

The rules? Who cares – these are puppies.

Here are are few photos from past DEN Puppy Bowls, including some of the fun giveaways travelers can take home.

Adorable, right?

Super Bowl-bound? Airports and TSA ready.

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.)


Travel Tidbits from airports and airlines

New amenities at CVG Airport

Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) will get new nonstop service to Memphis, TN on Allegiant, starting May 22.

CVG also boasts some new shops and amenities, including a Be Relax spa (at B16), The Scoreboard sports memorabilia shop (B10) and the Gaslight Market for travel necessities.

Walk this way at SEA

If all goes according to plan, on Thursday night workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) will hoist this 900-foot long aerial walkway into place 85 feet above an existing taxi lane to connect the South Terminal with the new International Arrivals Facility.

When completed, this will be the longest aerial walkway over an active taxiway in the United States.

Heading to the Super Bowl in Miami?

To meet passenger demand and help fans get to the big game, some airlines are putting larger aircraft into service on key routes and adding extra flights.

United Airlines will offer  29 additional nonstop flights to Miami from its seven U.S. hubs including Los Angeles, plus seven special point-to-point flights between Kansas City and Miami.

American Airlines announced extra flights to Miami (MIA) from Kansas City (MCI), San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC). American will also add larger aircraft — Boeing 777-200s — to Miami from its hubs in New York (JFK), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX) and Chicago (ORD).

Between January 30 and February 3, JetBlue will add more than a dozen flights between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

From January 30 to February 4, JetBlue is adding ten flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL).

On Friday, January 31 Southwest Airlines has five nonstop flights scheduled instead of the regular two from Kansas City (MCI) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The airline will add a bonus nonstop flight between San Jose, CA (SJC) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL) as well.

On Monday, February 3, Southwest will send five flights from FLL back to MCI and the bonus nonstop flight to San Jose from FLL.

Spirit Airlines and Delta Air Lines are adding extra flights to and from Miami as well.

And the Heinz Ketchup brand is offering to pay all but 57 cents of the $200 airline change fee for 300 Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers fans who bought tickets to Miami before their teams lost out.