Starting Monday, passengers without TSA PreCheck must use a single security checkpoint at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s main terminal.
A remodel of the ticketing lobby in Terminal 1, also known as the Lindbergh terminal, means security screening at the south checkpoint will be limited to passengers with TSA PreCheck, those with CLEAR PreCheck and airport employees.
The rest of the traveling public, including First Class/Sky Priority and CLEAR Standard passengers, must use the terminal’s north checkpoint, according to the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which owns and operates the airport.
It’s all part of a multiyear $1.6 billion renovation at the airport’s main terminal, which includes an overhaul of the baggage claim area, the food court, and new restrooms. The ticketing lobby is being expanded toward the front of the airport to make it larger. “In the end, the improvements at Terminal 1 will be worth any inconvenience encountered along the way,” said MAC spokesman John Welbes. “The challenge will be for people to get to the proper checkpoint, but after that, the experience will be the same as it is now.”
Work on the south checkpoint is expected to be completed by mid-December, but the restrictions will be in place during the busy travel weekend for teacher conferences in October and the Thanksgiving holiday.
Now, travelers occasionally experience a bottleneck in Terminal 1 during busy times when lines from both checkpoints blend into each other. The squeeze is exacerbated because construction of new elevators is walled off at the terminal’s midsection. The heaviest passenger volumes typically occur between 5:30 and 8 a.m., according to the MAC.
According to TSA spokeswoman Danielle Bennett, the renovation project means two security lanes will not be available for standard passengers. This is “due to the limited space for passengers to be able to maneuver past the construction wall,” she said.
All told, 16 lanes will be available for screening in Terminal 1, Bennett said. “The north checkpoint, which is our largest [with] 10 lanes, will be used to accommodate standard passengers during the MAC’s construction project,” she added.
Bennett noted that a recent study by the Consumer Affairs website found that MSP had the fourth-fastest security checkpoints of U.S. airports. The average passenger wait time was 13 minutes at MSP.
Despite the change, passengers are still advised to arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours early for international trips. The skyway security checkpoint on the connector bridge between concourses C and G is temporarily closed, due to TSA staffing limitations, according to the MAC.
The remodeling of the south checkpoint will occur in stages over a five-month period, according to the MAC. That allows the checkpoint to remain open for TSA PreCheck and CLEAR PreCheck passengers during construction.
The MAC said Friday that signs and audio messages will alert passengers in “locations where they are most likely to make their security screening choice.” Airport staff and volunteers will be on hand to direct befuddled travelers, as well.
More information for passengers is available on the airport’s website.
With more than 7 million members, TSA PreCheck costs $85 and is good for five years. The expedited screening program allows travelers to keep their shoes, light outerwear and belts on as they go through security. Laptops may remain in their cases, and liquids and gels may remain in carry-on bags using select checkpoint screening lanes.
More than 200 domestic airports participate in the program.
CLEAR is run by a private company and uses eye and fingerprint biometrics to identify travelers. Currently, about 3 million people have CLEAR, which is available at more than 50 airports, arenas and stadiums nationwide. The cost is $179 a year.
Checkpoints at Terminal 2 are not affected.
Janet Moore • 612-673-7752 Twitter: @ByJanetMoore
Airport security programs
Allows passengers to move quickly through security without removing shoes, belts, light jackets, laptops and liquids. A five-year membership costs $85. Apply at tsa.gov/precheck.
A separate program that allows passengers to head to a dedicated screening lane, skipping both regular screening and TSA PreCheck lines. Generally used by frequent travelers, it costs $179 a year. While it is not necessary to have TSA PreCheck to use CLEAR, having both speeds up the travel document check and the physical screening process. Apply at clearme.com.