Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport's name is deceiving, seeing as it pretty much exclusively serves domestic destinations. There have been occasions when flights from here have gone as far as Toronto, but this certainly isn't where you'll find nonstop trips to Paris or London. Kentuckians tend to look to the state's biggest and busiest airport—Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport—for that. Nonetheless, Louisville's is the second-largest in Kentucky and a port of entry for international cargo flights. It operates nearly 500 flights per day—primarily to Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, and Dallas-Fort Worth—and sees about 4 million passengers per year.
The Louisville Airport, as it's commonly called, is an easy starting point for local Kentuckians and a popular Midwestern stopover. It has a single, two-level terminal, the Jerry E. Abramson Terminal (named after a former governor), that are divided into two concourses. There are only about 20 shops and eateries, all of which close down around 8:30 p.m. Likewise, the airport closes after the last flight leaves or arrives and reopens at 4 a.m. every morning. Thus, if you're planning for an overnight layover, you might be better off staying in one of the nearby hotels.
Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
Formerly known as Standiford Field, Louisville's airport changed its name in the 1990s, but kept the airport code SDF. In 2019, the Regional Airport Authority voted to incorporate the name of late professional boxer and Louisville native, Muhammed Ali.
Know Before You Go
Allegiant Air, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, and United offer nonstop flights to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Houston, among other domestic destinations. An expansion plan dubbed SDF Next will add moving walkways, improve security checkpoints, and potentially add Federal Inspection Services to allow for international flights.
The airport has one main terminal that's split into two floors: ticketing on upper and baggage claim on lower. A long hallway connects the main terminal with its two concourses at a circular atrium, where passengers can stop for food and drink before heading to their gates. Concourse A houses Delta, Allegiant, Frontier, and United and Concourse B houses Southwest and American Airlines. Both concourses have the standard facilities and additional shops and eateries.
SDF Airport Parking
Parking at the Louisville Airport is much simpler than parking at many other major city airports. Options are:
- The Parking Garage: The garage that's located just outside the terminal doors is split into under-four-hours parking on Level 1 and over-four-hours parking on Levels 1 through 3. Under four hours costs $1 for the first hour and $1 for every half hour after that, up to $19 for the day. Over four hours costs $2 for the first hour and $2 for every hour after that, up to $13 for the day. This garage also offers a weekly rate of $78. Handicap spaces are available throughout the garage.
- Surface Parking Lot: For longer-term stays, opt instead for the cheaper Surface Lot, which is only $9 a day or $54 a week (there are no hourly rates). It's located past the parking garage and there's a shuttle service that runs every 10 to 15 minutes from 4 a.m. to midnight daily.
- Credit Card Only Lot: You can get a deal on parking by paying with a credit card at SDF. The Credit Card Only Lot is located on the east side of the terminal, within walking distance. It costs $8 a day.
- Valet: Valet is the most convenient, but also the most expensive, at $24 a day. You can drop your vehicle off and pick it up curbside on the Upper Level.
SDF is located where Interstates 65 and 264 intersect, just south of the city. Coming from Downtown Louisville, you would take I-65 South and exit on 131B leading to Terminal Drive. This road will take you right to the airport entrance.
Public Transportation and Taxis
There isn't much by way of public transportation from Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, at least compared to what other city airports offer. The public bus, however, does stop at SDF. The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) runs Route 2 from downtown, along Second Street, looping around the airport. The bus takes about 40 minutes to get downtown and costs just under $2 for a one-way trip.
Besides the TARC bus or an airport shuttle, your only option without renting a car is to take a taxi. Ready Cabs and Yellow Cabs can be found at designated taxi stands outside the baggage claim. Fares aren't fixed, but you can expect to pay about $20 for a trip into the city, which should take about 10 minutes.
Where to Eat and Drink
If you're looking for a bite to eat before boarding your flight, then there are about a dozen food options to choose from. Before security in the main Jerry E. Abramson Terminal, there's Book and Bourbon Southern Kitchen, where you can order a signature Louisville mint julep to go with your fried green tomatoes, as well as The Comfy Cow, a local-favorite ice cream parlor, Starbucks, and KFC. In the airside rotunda, located at the end of the hallway, there's Bourbon Academy Tasting Room (more whiskey cocktails) and another Starbucks. In Concourse A, you'll find a Chili's and The Local Rustic Market, a popular airport grab-and-go spot. In Concourse B, you'll find Coals Artisan Pizza, an outpost of Louisville's pizza staple, and Smashburger.
Where to Shop
You won't find high-end fashion boutiques at Louisville's airport (so forget purchasing your derby outfit here), but you will find several places to purchase a last-minute souvenir. Most shops are located in the main terminal, pre-security. You can buy yourself a mini bat and other baseball memorabilia at the Louisville Slugger store, a bottle of whiskey at Kentucky Bourbon Trail, or Kentucky Derby-themed keepsakes at the Churchill Downs gift shop. Additional newsstands and convenience stores are scattered throughout the concourses.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport and you can find power outlets built into the seats in either concourse.
SDF Airport Tips and Tidbits
- Treat yourself to some self-care during your layover. SDF may not have world-class spas on-site, but it does have a meditation room (in the ticketing area) and massage chairs located in both concourses and the airside connector.
- You can also kill some time in the Games Room, located in Departures, across from the American Airlines ticket desk.
- SDF may not be a contender for the busiest commercial airport, but it's third in line for the most heavily-trafficked cargo airports in the U.S. (and seventh in the world). It's home to Worldport, the worldwide hub for UPS. It's also the base of the Kentucky Air National Guard.