Busy travel weekend expected at IND, long lines continuing through holidays

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Airport officials are anticipating a busy travel weekend at Indianapolis International Airport following the Bands of America Grand National Championships that brought 39,000 people into Indianapolis. It’s expected that the travel spike will continue through the holidays.

Airport officials are reminding travelers to arrive early, pack smart and plan ahead as TSA anticipates 16,000 people from that band competition to come through Indianapolis International Airport on Sunday alone to travel home. They expect Sunday morning to be the busiest day this weekend.

“I just talked to our Indianapolis team, and the elevated travel volumes have started. So I would say anytime you are traveling now through the holidays you can expect those long lines everyday,” Jessica Mayle with TSA Great Lakes Region said.

Matt Lowe and his daughter were headed to Virginia for a softball tournament.

“I didn’t really know what to expect so we are here, like, way early — like, three hours,” Lowe said.

Not everyone is having such a smooth travel experience. Chrystal Mukendi and her friends were planning to head to Las Vegas on Friday night. They arrived an hour before their flight was scheduled to leave.

“Once I checked in, or was attempting to check my luggage in, I was told that American Airlines system shuts off at a certain point and so it was entirely too late for us to check our luggage in,” Mukendi said.

Friday night, the lines weren’t too bad at the airport — but come Saturday morning, when Mukendi and her friends will be boarding their new flight, that is expected to change.

“I am going to make sure I am here like two to two-and-a-half hours early,” Mukendi said.

“The busy times of day in Indianapolis are 5 to 7 a.m. So definitely if you are getting one of those first flights of the day, you can anticipate having a longer line versus someone who is leaving later in the afternoon,” Mayle said.

Travel has been on the rise nationally since since more people have been getting vaccinated and travel restrictions have been lifted.

Indianapolis is expecting pre-pandemic level travel this holiday season.

“Right now we are seeing travel volumes at Indianapolis at about 95% of those 2019 levels. There are certainly individual days where we are exceeding 2019,” Mayle said.

Because of the rise specifically in leisure travel, TSA is reminding people to arrive early for their flights, wear a mask and double-check the TSA website to make sure you aren’t bringing any prohibited items to ensure the smoothest travel experience possible.

“The best thing that you can do as a passenger to keep that line moving is to not bring anything in your bag that is going to trigger an alarm,” Mayle said.

TSA says that, on average, arriving two hours before your flight is set to take off is enough time at Indianapolis international to have a smooth travel experience.