Bowl Games Bring More Travelers to the Area
With the holidays winding down, things are still busy at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as visitors descend upon the Valley for the Insight and Fiesta Bowl games.
The players are already here. The University of Iowa Hawkeyes were the first to arrive on December 22 followed by the University of Oklahoma Sooners on December 25. They will face-off in the Insight Bowl to be played on Friday, December 30. The Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Stanford University Cardinals both arrived on December 26 and will play each other in the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, January 2.
Each of the teams was met by fanfare, and fans from across the country are flying in these bowl games. It looks easy, but staff behind-the-scenes at Phoenix Sky Harbor has been busy preparing for weeks for these events.
For fans attending the games, operations inside the Airport are a focus. Extra volunteer Navigators are ready to answer questions and provide assistance. Besides working in the terminals to assist travelers, Navigators also participated in Meet and Greets for the Insight and Fiesta Bowl teams.
Fans will be delighted to find that many of Sky Harborís shops have special bowl game merchandise. For example, Sky Harbor is always one of the first locations where fans can purchase shirts with the various gamesí final scores. It is very easy for fans to pick them up as they are heading home. And, as fans head home, be aware of the following travel tips:
- Bringing home a game program? Please place your program in your carry-on bag rather than checked luggage. Because the shape, size and materials used in the programs, theyíre not easily identified in the checked baggage screening process and may cause luggage to be hand-searched.
- Make sure to allow time to check in and get through Airport security. Travelers are advised to arrive to the Airport a minimum of two hours before flight departure.
- Travelers who need to return a rental car should be aware that the Rental Car Center may be busy the day after the games. at the Rental Car Center early to allow for transfer to the terminals, check-in, and security.
What many may not know is the amount of involvement the Airport has in the team arrivals and departures. Staff from two sections of the Operations division handles the various aspects of each teamís arrival and departure. For example, the Terminal Operations section focuses on customer service for the teams and the fans. This includes increasing staffing levels and monitoring/managing checkpoint lines and ticket counters. They also post signs and talk to passengers about what can and cannot go in checked luggage, such as event programs.
Additionally, staff works with arriving and departing charter buses to ensure everything runs smoothly. For instance, an overflow parking lot is used as a staging area and is open 24 hours a day so that buses can wait and then be sent to the terminals or escorted by Operations staff.
Airside Operations staff provides airfield escort support for the charter flights. This includes compiling all charter information and collaborating with airlines and ground service providers to develop a plan for gate or ramp parking of the flights. Airside Operations staff also coordinated with Business and Properties and Facilities and Services staff as well as the TSA for support and management for the charter arrivals and departures. They also set up tents for the team arrivals where Insight and Fiesta Bowl volunteers hosted receptions which included media and entertainment.
Published: December 28, 2011