“Airport 24/7: Miami” offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to move more than 100,000 travelers each day through Miami International Airport.
“We host a Super Bowl every day at MIA,” security director Lauren Stover said, comparing the number of travelers to attendance at the championship football game.
With thousands of employees running what can easily be compared to a small city, the show follows workers as they deal with terrorist threats, intercept drug smugglers, attend to medical emergencies, repair aircraft and secure an Air Force One landing, all the while trying to get the passengers to their flights and the planes in the sky on time.
“This is one of many ways in which Travel Channel is trying to give viewers a different look at all aspects of travel,” network general manager Andy Singer said. “And we think the Miami International Airport is a fascinating way to do that.”
The first two episodes of the show premier back-to-back at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
The idea for the show started with 2C Media owner Chris Sloan, who said he’s had a passion for commercial aviation since he was a child. His longtime hobby has been collecting photos and memorabilia from airports around the world. He’s even been maintaining a website about airports and airlines — airchive.com — for nearly a decade.
“I travel a lot,” Sloan said. “And I felt that this was a world that was much maligned.”
Sloan said it was challenging to convince airport officials he wasn’t trying to do some kind of expose or smear job. And once MIA agreed to the show, they still had to convince multiple airlines and government agencies to give them access, Sloan said. But their patience and perseverance appeared to pay off.
“Whenever you go to an airport, there are always signs that say, ‘Staff Only,’ ‘Do Not Enter,’ ‘Prohibited Area,’ ‘Alarm Will Go Off,”‘ Sloan said. “But we actually go to all those places, and that’s unique.”
Ken Pyatt, MIA’s deputy director of operations, said he was surprised by how dramatic the show turned out to be. He said he thought the show would be more matter-of-fact in its presentation of different areas of the airport. Instead, camera crews spent several months earlier this year following employees around, showing rather than telling the types of challenges workers face on a regular basis.
“I think the editing of the show is amazing,” Pyatt said. “How they were able to put these little vignettes together each show and actually tell four or five stories.”
Pyatt said he particularly enjoyed a later episode that deals with Air Force One landing in Miami the same day that the budget airline Interjet is scheduled to hold an event celebrating its inaugural flight between Miami and Mexico City. The Interjet event, with celebrities and local officials set to attend, had been scheduled at least month in advance, Pyatt said. But when the president comes to town, everything else becomes secondary to that.