Post-Super Bowl Flights

If there was any doubt about where the two teams in this year’s Super Bowl are from, these screen shots will resolve it.

Here is the flow about 3 hours after the game ended (surprisingly few were headed toward New England)…

Here it is 12 hours later (more flights to the New England area)…

Listening to ATC the last few days, they have done an amazing job. Good weather helped, since VFR allows closer spacing. We’ve seen a mix of airliners, up to 767s and 777s, with dozens of supplementary scheduled flights and a lot of charters. A surprising number left before 8 am this morning. And there have been more than 1000 GA aircraft, far more than last year in Dallas. Planes were parked on every square foot of concrete at KIND, and it’s a very large airport. Not everyone got to land at KIND, though, since those reservations were booked months ago. All of the airports within 75 miles of the game had reserved parking, and most were full. There were some who had to land as far away as French Lick airport. (Hopefully they dropped by Larry Bird’s family to say hi.) Even now at 3 pm the day after the game, they’re still much busier than usual. For an aviation enthusiast, this was like the Indy 500 from 10-15 years ago, when even the Concorde flew in!

Here is the flow about 3 hours after the game ended (surprisingly few were headed toward New England)…

Pure speculation, but could it have been that the Pats fans were very confident they would win and booked their rooms for the night to celebrate?

I was watching the ‘enroute to KIND’ sunday morning, seemed like at least a 4-1 ratio from NY area vs. NE area…

Consider the time.
Flights after the game would be arriving on the east coast between ~0100 and 0400. Who wants to fly then? Flights heading west would still arrive late at night but not as late as the east coast flights because of time zone changes.

Who would want to fly then? Apparently a lot of people! The first screenshot was taken at 1:20 am EST, when there were at least 20 flights still on the ground preparing to leave, including a couple of wide-body chartered flights. (Although I zoomed in on the Northeast in both shots, there were only 3 other aircraft that had left Indy when I captured the first one. There were about a dozen or so in the second screenshot.) There was a brief lull between 2 am and 5 am, although aircraft never stopped leaving all night long. At 5 am the airline traffic started picking up, with at least 8 757/767s and another 20+ flights using 737/AB320/MD80 equipment scheduled before 7:30 am. I don’t think many of the thousands of people on those flights got much sleep last night. A popular plan that I heard about was to stay downtown for a few hours after the game, then head out to the airport. All airport vendors stayed open for the full 24 hours to support these passengers, so I’m sure it was better than paying the steep price for another hotel night. Airlines opened their check-in counters at 3 am and the exodus began in earnest at 5 am, and has continued all day. It’s only now returning to the normal schedule at 7 pm, with a couple of additional press charters still to leave tonight. BTW, Delta has seemed to be the primary carrier. Although all of the majors added flights to their schedules and/or scheduled charters, Delta really seemed to be everywhere, with several 757s and 767s that we usually don’t see here other than at the FedEx hub.

As far the reason why so many more early flights headed to the NY area instead of Boston, I think it’s more numbers than bravado. Those NE fans that I met during my time at the Super Bowl village didn’t seem overly confident, although I didn’t meet any that would be able to afford private jets or last-minute Super Bowl packages. The Patriots rightly claim all of New England as their fan base, and rightly so. But that region’s population pales in comparison to the NY/NJ/CT metro area. I’m a native Newarker myself, although I’ve lived here in Indy for 40+ years.

Since the majority of air traffic was by corporate aircraft, whether owned or leased, the higher number of corporate headquarters in the NY/NJ/CT area would again play a major role. Many of them entertain at the Super Bowl each year, no matter who is playing and where it is. But when the Giants qualified for the game, it became a required event for those corporations. There have been reports that 300-400 of the 1000 GA flights into the area have been arranged in the last week. I’ve also noticed that many of the aircraft flew back-and-forth several times before the game to ferry their customers into Indy, and they’ve been doing the same ever since it ended. I’d bet that Teterboro (right in the Giants’ back yard) has seen much more traffic than they anticipated before the Giants won the NFC championship.

Whoever they were and whatever their feelings about the game’s outcome, I hope everyone got home safely. It’s been a blast hosting the Super Bowl here in Indy!