Did you know that the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) has repeatedly been named as the best airport across the country between Airports Council International, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast? Scoring high for its cleanliness, safety and accessibility, IND was also the first airport in the nation to become Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified for its entire terminal campus. Simply put, its facilities are resource efficient, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and uses less water and energy.
To improve the airport even more, there are plans to fund rehabilitation of the runway and taxiway, and improve airfield lighting with a recent grant of $15 million.
Just 5 minutes west of I-465 and 20 minutes away from downtown Indianapolis, the location is convenient and can send Hoosiers to 50 non-stop destinations including, but not limited to: Sarasota (Allegiant), Austin (Southwest and Frontier), Philadelphia (Frontier), Charleston (Allegiant), San Diego (Frontier) and more
Below is a guide to the airport along with some tips to ensure a smooth take-off to your next adventure:
Currently, there are a total of 9 airlines that central Indiana Hoosiers can fly on: Air Canada, Alaska Air, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United and Vacation Express. Plus if you’re looking for budget-friendly, beginning March 14, you can take Spirit Airlines nonstop from Indianapolis to Orlando or Las Vegas, and on May 2, nonstop to Myrtle Beach, SC.
Southwest Airlines seems to have the most traffic at Indianapolis International Airport, according to Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) airline activity reports. Yes, it might seem like it takes forever to get to the gate in Concourse B, but hey at least there are people movers unlike some airports, plus Starbucks at the end! During the holidays, they even have life-sized games like Jenga you can play to pass the time, especially when delayed.
With Southwest, you get 2 checked bags and 2 carry-ons free of charge plus IND rolled out new self-service kiosks where you can tag and check your bag on your own – all which saves you time! Compared to Delta, you’d pay around $140 roundtrip for 2 checked bags with them (per person). Fly with Southwest frequently and you’ll be rewarded with drink coupons – remember, you can bring those mini-bottles through security, but you can’t drink your own liquor in-flight!
Amenities. Recent updates include boosted wi-fi (fastest out of all U.S. airports), and more options for charging stations throughout the terminal and under the seats. The airport is working on bringing a locally themed retail and restaurant space. Right now, you can find Hoosier staples like Vera Bradley outposts, plus Café Patachou, King David Dogs, Harry & Izzy’s and Shapiro’s, but expect to see new additions in the near future as 5 new contracts for service vendors were just approved as part of the “Concessions Refresh Program.” At the end of 2018, the airport mentioned it was also exploring a technology that would allow you to order food at the gate.
In need of a quick pamper session? With services starting out at only $20, Enroute Spa offers up chair, foot and full body massages, nail service, and even teeth whitening. Find their full-service spa near gate B-6, and a smaller location at A-14, which offers chair and foot massages.
Get a good lay of the land with the IND map.
If you travel even just a few times a year, you may want to consider applying for TSA pre-check, especially if you enjoy convenience – $85 for 5 years. It’s nice to have some peace of mind knowing that it will take less than 5 minutes to get through security. You might think, “I’ve seen the TSA line and it’s longer than the normal security line!” But the thing is, it keeps moving, plus you don’t need to remove: shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts or light jackets. To apply, you’ll need to fill out an application, and make an appointment at one of Indianapolis’ enrollment centers (there are at least 2 in Indy, plus 1 at the airport) where they’ll perform a background check.
Who doesn’t like travel rewards? Consider off-site airport parking at Fast Park & Relax for a little over $7 a day (plus minor fee). Upon arrival, they’ll tell you where to park based on what day you’ll return (if you see a shuttle in your isle, park in front of them so they see you). You rarely have to wait long, if any at all, for a shuttle come to scoop you up, and assist you with your luggage – then the airport transfer takes around 5 minutes to get to the airport. They operate 24/7 in the event you have major delays, and pick-up/drop-off is by the rental cars – again, they’re pretty efficient so you don’t feel like you’re waiting around forever (especially in the cold!). We recommend making a reservation with Fast Park & Relax during peak times like the holidays, but on the daily, they definitely aren’t necessary. Keep in mind if you travel a lot for work, you’ll build up a lot of reward points – perhaps you could redeem them for your next vacation.
As far as on-site parking, IND is home to the largest airport electric bus fleet in the U.S. By the end of this year, 9 electric shuttle buses will replace 66,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year – decreasing emissions and improving air quality. As far as cost, the economy lot comes in comparably to the above at $9 per day (with no additional fees), but then daily parking in the terminal garage and park & walk lot ranges from $14-$27 a day. More information on the parkIND Plus Program can be found here.
P.S. – make sure you have your ID/driver’s license handy before you get on your shuttle and start the travel process. It will save you the hassle of digging around and holding up any lines.
If you’re traveling across the border or overseas, consider your timeline if you need to get a passport, and apply several months before your trip. Sure, you can procrastinate and pay over $100 to get it expedited, but say you need it in less than 2 weeks, you’ll have to make a trip up to Chicago in person. And if you already have one, make sure to check the expiration date – it should still be valid for at least 6 months after you return back home, and have two or more blank pages, depending on your destination. You don’t want to pack your bags and drive to the airport, just to learn about this oversight! Talk about a buzz kill. More on this and a traveler’s checklist can be found here.
So what kind of direct international flights does IND offer?
- Cancun, Mexico – nonstop via Delta and Southwest on Saturdays (a little over 3 hours one-way)
- Toronto, Canada – nonstop via Air Canada (less than 2 hours)
- Paris, France – nonstop via Delta (8-hour trip on the way there)
Plus Vacation Express has nonstop flights to Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and Cancun that are a part of all-inclusive vacation packages.
Have you seen a large mass of solar panels driving by or flying over the airport? IND’s solar farm houses 87,000+ solar panels, making it the largest airport-based solar farm in the world. That’s enough energy to power over 3,200 average homes! And if you’re interested in beekeeping or helping preserve Indiana’s honeybee population, check out the White Lick Beekeepers Association, which is housed on 4.7 acres of otherwise unused airport land.
To learn more about IND travel for pet parents, caregivers, and expecting or nursing moms, click here.
And if you’re wondering… when is the best time to buy a plane ticket? Forbes says it depends on the season.
What are your experiences traveling through Indianapolis International Airport? Do you have any tips or recommendations for fellow Hoosiers?