Here’s some friendly advice for travelers flying out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) for spring break: Be early.
MSP is the third worst for travelers who are running late for their flights, according to a new study by FinanceBuzz. The personal finance website looked at 2018 and 2019 data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and other sources to rank the nation’s 45 largest airports, said spokeswoman Aly Russo.
It used 12 metrics, including TSA wait time data, the number of departing passengers, percentage of flights that depart on time and the size of the terminal to rank the best and worst airports for late travelers.
Long security wait times and 84% of flights departing on time “doesn’t give those running late a great shot at benefiting from a delay,” the study’s authors said in putting MSP at No. 3 on its list.
Officials at MSP recommend travelers arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.
“Early is good,” said Patrick Hogan, spokesman for MSP airport.
Hogan said the airport is seeing record passenger traffic and is gearing up for the busy spring break travel period. The number of travelers passing through security checkpoints could reach more than 40,000 a day over the next six weeks, meaning wait times could sometimes exceed half an hour, Hogan said.
“There will be days we hit 30 minutes for short periods of time,” Hogan said, advising passengers that they will need more time to park, check in and get through security.
And those flying on Delta Air Lines need to be aware that curbside bag check is no longer available immediately outside the main terminal. The service has moved to the upper-level road adjacent to the parking ramps at Terminal 1 where city buses and ride-share services pick up.
The airport moved Delta’s curbside check services to help alleviate traffic congestion on the upper roadway immediately outside Terminal 1 and to make room to expand the terminal closer to the road.
The FinanceBuzz study found Newark’s Liberty International Airport — with nearly a 34-minute average security line wait time — was worst for tardy travelers. Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina was No. 2, followed by MSP. Orlando, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston Bush, Detroit and JFK in New York City rounded out the Top 10, according to the website’s rankings.
Travelers who show up late have better luck in places such as Houston Hobby Airport where the average security wait time is 13:45 minutes. Travelers can also move swiftly through terminals and security in Kansas City, Raleigh-Durham, San Antonio and Nashville, the study found.
Hogan offered a tip for late travelers who need to get through security quickly at MSP during busy weekday periods: Checkpoint 10 is on the skyway level of the parking deck and is open Monday through Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
The checkpoint is for passengers who have carry-on bags only. But others can check their bags in with their airline, then return to the parking deck and take the elevator to the skyway level to bypass long security lines in the main terminal.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768