Before the days of online maps and travel apps (I guess blogs fit in there as well), many went to the local AAA office for a “TripTik” when planning a vacation. You could get hotel reservations, maps, tickets to attractions and much more as a perk of your membership. Like much of the travel industry, TripTiks took a backseat to the online world of travel planning leaving this once great travel tool left behind amongst a sea of dead travel agencies and planners. AAA still offer TripTiks today through a virtual environment so it hasn’t completely gone away.
Anyway, in a way to honor the glory days of paper travel, I’m going to start my own version of the TripTiks but of course, focusing my efforts on the world’s airports. Since my job gives me the opportunity to do a good amount of travel, plus the travel my wife and I do on our own, I’m in a lot of airports and along with people watching, I like to explore the environments making note of the good, the bad, and the absolutely stupid. So I don’t infringe on AAA’s copyright, I’ve decided to call version “PortTiks” where I will do my best to give a review of airports I encounter along with some tips that I may learn along the way.
To begin this journey, I will start at my home base at the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) located in the “Crossroads of America,” beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. This is the starting point for most of my journeys so it only makes sense to start with the one in my own back yard. The first thing to point out about IND compared to many of the other airports I will review, is that even with a few years under its belt, it is brand, spanking new. IND was one of the first airports to be fully reconstructed after September 11, 2001 which along with its visual appeal, is considering one of the safest airports in the United States. Although it is hard to consider IND a “major airport” given the low frequency of flights in and out daily and sine it is not a major airline hub, IND offers many of the perks of the larger facilities amplified to a new and modern level.
According the IND website, the airport consist of approximately 1.2 million square feet, with two concourses and 20 gates. Only two gates throughout the complex are designated for international departures but I guess that’s enough for them to say they are global. One of the first things you notice about IND both from inside and out, is the was built to incorporate as much natural light as possible. The terminal, concourses, and even the baggage claim area is made up of almost constant windows, many of which reach twenty or more feet in the air. During the day this adds a nice outside feel to the facility but at night it is equally as impressive especially driving up from I-70. I can only imagine that the pilots can see IND from miles away because of the amount of light that radiates out in the evening hours. I’m not an expert, but surely that is a plus.
If you follow me long enough, you’re going to notice that restrooms are very important to me. The one thing that will always be a determining factor between a good versus bad restroom is the presence or absence of dividers between each urinal. I’m happy to announce that IND passes the test and has nice, metal dividers comfortably situated between each urinal to keep me from having to view the business of the traveler next to me. The restrooms also have nice hangers on the backs of the stall doors; at least most of them have yet to be ripped off by some jerk-off who thinks it’s a good idea to hang up his 40lb garment bag. You can also get a handful of hand sanitizer on the way out which is another plus on their part.
IND has its perks but there are plenty of drawbacks as well. For one, some of the best restaurants are actually located before the security checkpoints. I wonder if this was intentional or a design flaw that wasn’t realized until it was too late. Of course with IND not being a major hub, there are few travelers who arrive on a layover so that may have factored into this decision. However, since IND is mostly a come and go airport, you either have to decide to eat at one of these establishments before going into security or after you reach your destination. I guess one could go out of security waiting on a delay but who really wants to invite the additional screenings you get for making that decision. There are plenty of other eating or grab-and-go establishments in each concourse so dining options is not a problem. I just had to get this little annoyance off my chest.
As I’ve stated a few times, IND is not a major airport so whether you are traveling to here or heading out, most likely you’re going to layover at either Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas or Chicago (to name a few). I’ll review those at a later time and you can determine yourself how much of an inconvenience that can cause. IND has done a pretty good job of announcing new direct flights fairly often but for the most part, you’re on a leg when flying IND so get used to it. Maybe someday, as the city grows and more flights start pouring through this airport, they will get to the point where point A to B is the norm instead of the exception.
Overall, IND is a great airport which has been recognized by publications like Conde Nast, TripAdvisor and Airports Council International. It’s visual appeal, wide corridors and overall traveler friendly design make it worthy of all the allocates it has received. It’s relatively small size and low flight frequency are some negative attributes; however, IND fits into the direction of its host city as a growing, modern and clean facility that is ready to bust out into bigger and better things.