March 11, 2017 02:55 PM
Passenger numbers are up at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport but wait times are down, according to newly-released statistics from the Transportation Security Administration.
It's welcome news for travelers one year after the somewhat-turbulent unveiling of a new security checkpoint at the airport. Asked to compare March 2016 to March 2017, frequent flyer Annette Fuqua said, "I'm thinking like, wow, airport traveling is getting a little easier."
The numbers bear that out. While March is always the busiest month at MSP, largely due to spring break, TSA officials said they expect at least a 6.5 percent increase in passengers this year over last. Despite that, wait times are significantly shorter.
TSA statistics show that while nearly 20 percent of passengers had to wait between 20 and 29 minutes last March, only 1 percent of passengers have had to wait that long so far this March.
"The issues we had last year with getting this thing up and running are a thing of the past," TSA Federal Security Director for Minnesota Cliff Van Leuven said Friday, standing alongside the new checkpoint, adding, "this is exactly what you're supposed to see."
The surge in passengers was evident Friday, when Van Leuven said he expected in excess of 45,000 passengers to go through security.
"Today will be the busiest day that we have had in a year and probably more," he said. "Today will surpass what we had all last year." That includes the Wednesday and Thursday of the Minnesota Educator Academy conference, which are typically the busiest days of the year at MSP.
Van Leuven attributed the shorter wait times to a variety of factors, including the security checkpoint transition being complete, more travelers enrolling in TSA PreCheck, and additional TSA personnel.
Still, MSP officials are urging caution for Minnesotans who plan to travel during the month of March.
Said Airport Spokesperson Melissa Scovronski: "It's going to be the busiest I've ever seen in the 20 years that I've been here."
As such, officials still recommend travelers arrive at least two hours before their flight departs -- shorter wait times or not.
Updated: March 11, 2017 02:55 PM
Created: March 10, 2017 04:15 PM
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