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Crowds at Indianapolis Airport expected to hit pre-pandemic levels this Thanksgiving

Indianapolis International Airport walkway

Photo of the motion-activated lighting display in the pedestrian walkway between the Indianapolis International Airport parking garage and Colonel H. Weir Cook Terminal (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/ Aiko, Thomas & Juliette+Isaac)

The Indianapolis International Airport (IND) expects pre-pandemic crowds over Thanksgiving.  

Airport authority executive director Mario Rodriguez said 14,000- 16,000 people will come through IND each day between Wednesday and Monday. The TSA security line normally takes 5-10 minutes, but the wait time this week will be about 35 minutes.  

“Early morning flights (5 a.m. – 7 a.m.) are the most impacted,” an IND press release reads. “Airport officials encourage travelers flying out during this timeframe to arrive at least two hours early.” 

The airport saw more than 2 million passengers between July and September this year, which is a 133 percent increase from 2020 and a 15 percent decrease from 2019.  

Rodriguez said passenger numbers are almost back to pre-pandemic levels but with different demographics. Instead of traveling for business, most people are now traveling for leisure. As a result, demand for low-cost airlines is high.  

“We have a lot of ultra-low-cost carriers here at the airport that offer very reasonable rates when flying back to see friends and family during the holidays,” he said. “A lot of people are taking advantage of this.” 

Rodriguez said companies such as Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, and Sun Country Airlines make flying more accessible.   

“They’ve democratized flying and lowered the price of flying,” he said. “It’s causing all the other airlines who want to compete in that space to reduce their pricing also.” 

Rodriguez said the airport is staffed optimally for the holiday season.  

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