Indianapolis International readied for potential Hurricane Sandy stranded travelers

Airport is secondary landing site

INDIANAPOLIS - With thousands of flights canceled as Hurricane Sandy bears down, Indianapolis International Airport is playing host to stranded travelers and grounded planes.

About 80 flights to and from the East Coast were canceled Monday, complicating travel plans in Indianapolis and across the country.

A Buddhist group trying to get from Indianapolis to India was split up Monday, with 10 put on a plane to Houston and the others waiting to get a seat whenever they can.

"The main problem is that we were flying out of Newark from the beginning, and because everything is shut down there, then we can't fly from that direction," traveler Kimberly Martin said.

Two friends from New York City spent the weekend jumping between airports is Dallas, Little Rock, Chicago and Indianapolis before deciding to rent a car and drive as far as possible east.

"We're shooting for Pittsburgh right now. I just got some bad news when we turned the phones on in the plane that, I live on Long Island, and the tunnels were both closing at 2 p.m., so that kind of precludes us from getting in there today," said traveler Vincent Raicovi.

Indianapolis International has been preparing for the storm for two days, working with the National Weather Service and airlines to secure Indianapolis as a secondary landing site, if needed.

As of Monday afternoon, 31 planes from various airlines, the military and FedEx were parked in Indianapolis.

"We are a diversion airport for the Midwest, so we can accommodate the aircraft, and we have definitely a safe location for them to park with plenty of ramp space here in Indianapolis," said Mike Medvescek, senior director of airport operations.

Cots and bedding are available for customers who get stranded, and food service hours could be extended if any flights to the East Coast get stuck in Indianapolis.

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