- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - A large crowd of Super Bowl travelers flooded the Phoenix airport Monday as fans headed home the morning after the dramatic game, forcing them to check in three hours before their scheduled departures to avoid missing flights.

About 180,000 people are expected to depart, arrive or connect at the airport on Monday, up from 110,000 on a normal day, Sky Harbor International Airport spokeswoman Heather Lissner said.

The Transportation Security Administration says about 80,000 passengers are expected to depart - twice the normal amount for an average day. Tuesday may see higher than average travelers headed home, Lissner said.

Compounding matters are winter storms on the East Coast that have led to a few cancellations and delays. A day earlier, a rare blanket of fog that covered the Phoenix area resulted in flight cancellations and caused some people to miss the Super Bowl.

Sylvan Schefler has been to each of the 49 Super Bowls, and he said walking into the airport that he didn’t anticipate any complications getting home to New York City, unlike past experiences. Organizers have learned to handle crowds, he said.

“Years ago, it was disorganized and a bit of a mess,” the 76-year-old said, smiling. “They’ve got it down to a science, and of course it was a great game.”

Jim Evaskevich from Calgary, Alberta, was enjoying a Bloody Mary at the Phoenix airport after navigating the long security line for his Super Bowl weekend trip with friends. He is familiar with the crush of travelers at the Phoenix airport during winter months, so he wasn’t bothered by the postgame chaos.

“If you don’t like crowds, you shouldn’t travel,” he said.

TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers says extra screeners are working and that security lines were moving quickly Monday morning. But the airport expects its big crush to happen midday.

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