Airlines, Airports Ramp Up for Super Bowl Travel

Extra flights needed to get tens of thousands of fans to Miami for Super Bowl LIV

By Natalie Fiorilli

Published January 27, 2020

Read Time: 3 mins


The airlines will be taking their talents to South Beach for Super Bowl LIV.

Almost as soon as the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs secured their spots in America’s most-watched sports contest, several airlines began adding flights to help fans get to Miami.

Following the conference championship games on Jan. 19, multiple carriers scheduled additional flights between Kansas City International (MCI), San Francisco International (SFO) and San Jose International (SJC) to Miami International Airport (MIA) and nearby Ft. Lauderdale Airport (FLL) for Super Bowl weekend, Jan. 31- Feb. 3.

Among the airlines to add flights and frequencies for the game are American Airlines, Southwest, Spirit, Delta Air Lines and United.

In Kansas City, the airport’s deputy director of marketing and air service, Justin Meyer, followed along as airlines add flights from MCI after the Chiefs’ AFC Championship Game win.

“This time of year, we average about four flights a day to South Florida,” said Meyer. “As the Chiefs were wrapping up [the game], I observed a whole lot of capacity being added by the airlines, almost in real time, which was fun to watch.”

Meyer noted the added flights appear to be selling seats pretty quickly.

“I’m super-pleased to see two things: one is the airlines’ willingness to put capacity in the market to help fans in the Kansas City region get to the Super Bowl,” he said. “I’m also really pleased with the response of the market to be gobbling up all that additional capacity.”

Officials at both MCI and SFO are also preparing to accommodate an increase in travelers heading to Miami for the game. Doug Yakel, public information officer for San Francisco International Airport, said the airport is working to make sure operations teams are ready for the big weekend.

“Our goal is to ensure all touchpoints at the airport, including curbside, ticket counters, the security checkpoint and concessions, are properly staffed to support this activity,” Yakel said.

Welcoming the world

Airport officials in Miami are preparing to handle the deluge of passenger traffic for three days leading up to the Super Bowl. The day after the game could see the highest number of departing passengers in a single day for the airport, with more than 90,000 travelers expected to fly out of MIA.

Officials at Miami International Airport (MIA) expect roughly 30,000 passengers will land in Miami for Super Bowl LIV. (Photo courtesy of MIA)

In preparation for increased operations, MIA published a “Countdown to Takeoff Playbook” that includes information for travelers about arriving, departing and using ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, among other tips.

On Friday, the airport announced that special Super Bowl festivities are officially underway in the terminal, with recordings of former Miami Dolphins All-Pros welcoming fans via the airport’s paging system, a tailgate party with games and a photo booth and “throwback” Dolphins highlight reels on display in the terminal.

The airport expects roughly 30,000 passengers will be landing in Miami just for the game and associated events.

American Airlines, which has hub operations at MIA and operates more than 340 daily flights there, added multiple flights to and from Kansas City, San Jose and San Francisco, and will also use larger aircraft to handle more passengers traveling from its other hub airports across the country.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines will offer five nonstops from Kansas City to Ft. Lauderdale on Jan. 31, along with a nonstop from SJC to FLL. Likewise, the carrier has scheduled five return flights from FLL to MCI and one nonstop to San Jose on Feb. 3.

After Kansas City won the conference championship, Spirit Airlines tweeted it would be adding an extra flight from MCI to FLL to get fans to the Super Bowl.

Additionally, United Airlines has announced it would add 29 additional nonstops to Miami from its seven U.S. hubs. Delta will also offer 18 more flights from MCI and SFO to Miami.

Miami has hosted more Super Bowl games than any other destination in the country, and officials expect the game to deliver a strong economic impact for the local community, according to William D. Talbert, CDME, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“[Visitors] will be welcomed by authentic and diverse neighborhoods that have been transformed since the last time the destination hosted the big game 10 years ago,” Talbert said. “It may be the 11th time we host the Super Bowl, but we will treat it like our first and continue to welcome Super Bowls for years to come.”

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