Are you flying to Louisville, Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby for the very first time?
Louisville’s Standiford Field (SDF) is a great place to live near if you like to fly. For example, with 10 days advanced purchase in the wintertime, the SDF airport will advertise the airlines that sell locals round trip tickets to Chicago for $118, New York City for $198, and to San Francisco for $308. However, does this change with the Kentucky Derby? In addition, what else do you need to know beyond the traditional flight information such as arriving early to deal with security checks?
Which city do you choose for Kentucky Derby flights?
Like Louisville, the airport in nearby Lexington, Kentucky will be over capacity with Kentucky Derby flights. Some consider Cincinnati, Ohio to be a sister city of Louisville and a slightly better option. It is only 100 miles away and can look rather close to Churchill Downs on a map. By car, the trip will take you about an hour and a half and it is worth it to some.
For example, you may find cheaper Kentucky Derby flights from your city to Cincinnati or Indianapolis. You may also take the train and find that it ends in Cincinnati instead of going all the way to Louisville. Although some do it, most people will not take a bus from Cincinnati to Louisville and will rent a car instead.
There are also the options of flying into Chicago or St. Louis. The trip from Louisville to Chicago will take you about 6 hours by rental car and the only other option (besides taking another plane) is taking the bus. You can go from Chicago to Cincinnati on a train, but your train ride will end there. In general, most people find the connecting the Kentucky Derby flights from Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Chicago to Louisville to be cheap with a round trip ticket bought in advance for the Kentucky Derby costing about $600.
Coordinating rental cars for the Derby
Those that have been burned by a car rental companies in the past feel that flying into Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville, or Chicago and driving the rest of the way to Louisville is best. While all of the cars may be rented out beyond capacity in Louisville, other cities (besides Lexington) are less likely to have few cars to rent.
Despite all of this, if you plan in advance, you can book a Kentucky Derby flight that lands in the Louisville Airport and absolutely has a rental car waiting for you. Other cities are an option, but the best use of your time will be by booking a direct flight into the SDF Louisville Airport.
What you can expect from the Louisville Airport
Without a doubt, anyone that travels to Louisville for the first time will be shocked to see that a smoking section is still offered on the third floor mezzanine level. Although it is not a very large Airport, the SDF is accommodating, clean, and beautiful. Around the terminals, all of the bare walls are covered with the prize winning work of local artists. There are also several stained glass art pieces that soften the natural light that shines in.
In other words, a layover or delayed flight in this Airport does not leave anyone lacking for something beautiful to look at. Some things that are lacking are that most of their restaurants and bars close between midnight and 4 A.M. They also do not provide any type of free Wi-Fi (or ad supported free Wi-Fi) in the terminal. Their current provider is Boingo Wireless.
Traveling after your Kentucky Derby Flight
There is public transportation in Louisville called TARC, but most people take the shuttle or a taxi to their hotel. Without a doubt, you will need to rely on taxis to get around town during the Derby or consider renting a car. While it is not that far to travel, most of the activities during the Kentucky Derby are separated from each other by at least a half a mile. The events, airport, hotels, and Churchill Downs are usually all within 5 miles of each other.
When asking locals for their opinion, they said that using a taxi is superior to renting a car because a taxi has a local tour guide driving. Most people cited that a taxi driver saves you from wandering all over town and missing out on events. They may also have tips for private parties and un-advertised happenings that you might not know about otherwise. Since there are so many parties, there is competition from locals to use taxis and this results in an influx of taxis from other nearby cities. For this reason, be sure to bring money to tip your taxi driver concierge.
Most confiscated items at the Louisville SDF
After the Kentucky Derby is over, there is some parting advice that return trip travelers leaving Louisville, Kentucky need to keep in mind. Simply put, when you are traveling from Louisville, you will not be allowed to take any alcohol over 3 ounces in your carry-on. This can cause some bumps for departing tourists since the Kentucky Derby is synonymous with bourbon. This means you will be likely to buy one of the small batch versions that you can only find in the area and want to take it home with you share with friends.
This warning restates the general airline travel guidelines of the TSA. This branch of Homeland Security has outlined restrictions based on what you should pack in your carry-on luggage versus the baggage you claim. In other words, when you are packing your bags to fly back home any expensive bourbons need to stay in your baggage claim. Alternatively, it can be shipped in the mail before you leave.