Three College Bowl Football Games Have Major Impact on Phoenix Sky Harbor
When you think of busy travel times in Phoenix, you might think the November and December holidays or Spring Break, but did you know that one of the busiest times a year is the week between Christmas and New Year's? What is going on in the Valley of the Sun? Each year, Phoenix Sky Harbor welcomes four college football teams and a multitude of fans for the Insight and Fiesta Bowl games. This year will be no different, except, there will be a third game with two additional teams, the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) taking place in January as well. In fact, did you know that an average day at the Airport sees about 90-100,000 passengers a day, but during this time period, will average around 120,000? These bowl games not only bring in thousands of excited fans in their various school colors, but they provide a boost to the Valley's economy.
Missouri and Iowa came to the Valley of the Sun for the Insight Bowl on December 28. The University of Connecticut and Oklahoma will be coming for the Fiesta Bowl on January 1, and Auburn and Oregon will be playing in the BCS game on January 10. Phoenix Sky Harbor plays a major role in each of these team arrivals. Staff, particularly from two sections of the Operations division, handles various aspects of the teams' arrivals and departures. The Terminal Operations section focuses on the customer service aspect for the teams and fans.
"We have increased our staffing levels to assist our customers with a focus on monitoring and managing checkpoint lines and ticketing areas," said Terminal Operations Manager Dora Gonzales. "We also set up signs at the ticketing counters and checkpoint entries instructing passengers to keep their event programs in their carry-on luggage."
The Terminal Operations staff also works with arriving and departing charter buses. For example, the Copperhead overflow parking lot will be used as a staging area and open 24/7 so that buses can stage and then be sent to the terminals or escorted by Operations.
Airside staff works to provide airfield escort support for the charter flights. They compile all the charter information and collaborate with the airlines and ground service providers to develop a plan for gate or ramp parking of the flights. Airside staff coordinates with the Business and Properties and Facilities and Services divisions as well as the TSA for support and management of the charter arrivals and departures. In addition, they also set up tents for the team arrivals where Fiesta Bowl and BCS volunteers put on a reception that includes entertainment and a media presence.
Inside the Airport, volunteer Navigators are ready to help as well. "In addition to Navigators assisting with the Meet and Greets for the Fiesta Bowl team arrivals, they are also available in the terminals to answer questions and provide information," said Customer Service Manager Alisa Smith. "We are planning to add 10 additional Navigators to each shift (for a total of 35-40 per shift) on the outbound day to be able to assist travelers."
Additionally, many of the stores have special bowl game merchandise. And, many fans do their shopping right here at Sky Harbor because it is the first place after the game they are able to purchase shirts that have the various games final scores on them. In fact, licensed screen printers are on standby during the games so that the minute the games are over they can print the custom shirts with the scores. Airport retail tenants then go pick them up and bring them to the Airport so that fans can purchase these unique and coveted keepsakes before their flights home. Having these very popular shirts available at Sky Harbor makes it easier for fans to pick them up on their journeys home.
During this exciting and very busy travel time at Sky Harbor, travelers should make sure to allow enough time for checking in and getting through security. It is recommended that they arrive at the Airport a minimum of two hours before flight departure. Additionally, bowl game attendees should make sure to carry-on their programs rather than putting them in their checked luggage. For other helpful travel tips, click here.