Indianapolis International Airport (IND) is a civilian airport serving central Indiana. It is located about 8 miles south-west of Indianapolis, just off I-465 and I-70 at coordinates 39°43'3"N, 86°17'40"W and 242 m (797 ft) above sea level. The airport is one of six facilities under the jurisdiction of the Indianapolis Airport Authority.
The Indianapolis airport was first opened in 1931. Starting in 1944, it was called Weir Cook Municipal Airport after Indiana's first WWI ace, Captain Harvey Weir Cook, who was shot down over the Pacific the year before. It kept that name until 1976, when its administrators decided that they wanted something more formal and international-like. IND has been operating as Indianapolis International since then. In 2007 suggestions were made to change the name back to Weir Cook but the idea was rejected. IND is notable for two firsts in airport technology: installing the first civilian airport radar in 1946 and the first airport computer in 1958. It has three runways: main ones 5L/23R at 3414 m (11200 ft) and 5R/23L at 3048 m (10000 ft), plus a 2318 m (7605 ft) crosswind runway at 14/32.
A new terminal was built between the two main runways on a field that was reserved for that purpose when the second runway was built back in 1975. The new billion-dollar terminal opened in November 2008 and replaced the old one, which dated back to 1957, with additions tacked on in 1968 and 1987. A third, parallel runway is also in the plans. I-70 was recently realigned with a possible taxiway overpass in mind since the new runway would be on the other (south) side of the highway. Access to the old terminal used to be from the east through I-465 just north of I-70. Access to the new terminal is strictly through I-70, exit 69 coming from the west, and exit 68 coming from the city. Coming down I-465 from the north takes a bit longer that it used to but you now turn west off I-465 and directly onto an access road rather than onto I-70 itself. Smart. Use my directions to get there. Your GPSs and on-line maps are out of date.
Navigating the airport as it is now is fairly easy, and its location is excellent for a large metropolitan airport. Parking charges are average by airport standards. The airport offers no grace period for quick pick-up and drop-off but does have a small "cell phone" lot. Entering and exiting the terminal area is remarkably simple. The designers made the best of the wide-open spaces at their disposal and set up long, straight access roads with very few of the confusing twists, ramps, and turns that characterise many urban airports. The new IND is the first major airport terminal to be designed and taken into service after September 11, 2001, and its design reflects a lot of the security-consciousness and sensibilities that resulted from the events of that date.
Concessions are more approachable than they are in many other airports since many of the shops are outside the secure terminal areas, making this a better-than-average airport for seeing off people and worse-than-average for transiting. They are also required to use "street pricing" so you won't find yourself paying $5 for a Big Mac. IND is also one of a handful of airports with a USO office. There used to be one designated smoking room in the old terminal but that fell victim to Indianapolis's city-wide anti-smoking hysteria in 2008.
Airlines serving IND are Air Canada, AirTran, American Airlines, Cape Air, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Midwest Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways for a total of 39 direct destinations. AirTran and Northwest use IND as a focus
city; for the remainder it's just a spoke destination. As far as international traffic goes, IND is overshadowed by O'Hare in Chicago. It's "international" by virtue of having flights to Toronto and Cancun. IND serves about 8.5 million passengers annually and handles over a million tons of cargo, mostly in its capacity as a FedEx hub.
Indy airport primarily serves central Indiana. It's not really a viable option for anyone further afield as tickets, particularly international tickets, to other major airports in the region, including Chicago Midway and O'Hare, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, tend to be a bit cheaper. Its ease of access however, is worth money to the comfort-seeking or time-conscious traveller so, if you're going to some place nearer Indy than Chicago, you can avoid nightmares like the Dan Ryan Expressway and the assorted toll roads, which would quite possible cost you more time and money than you would save by flying into Chicago.
More airport and flight information: http://www.indianapolisairport.com/