Fall travel numbers expected to peak this week at MSP Airport
You should expect long lines at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this week.
Schools across the state do not have class on Thursday or Friday as teachers attend the annual Minnesota Educators Association Conference.
Airport officials add they expect the number of passengers to approach, or surpass, daily post-pandemic passenger records over the next week.
Airport officials said Wednesday and Thursday will be the busiest flight departure days of the week, with around 46,000 travelers each day.
A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew saw security wait times vary from 10 minutes to 35 minutes at Terminal 1 on Wednesday afternoon.
MSP noted average daily departures for October are up 12% from last year.
“We think this weekend might be a bellwether for what the holiday season travel will look like,” said Gunnar Olson, flight deal analyst at Minnesota-based Thrifty Traveler. “The numbers coming out of MEA weekend will tell us a lot about the state of travel, especially going into the holidays.”
Gunnar said the increase in travelers has led airlines to boost seat capacity out of MSP.
“Delta and Sun Country and all of the airlines have bolstered the capacity on their planes to make sure they have enough seats flying to where people want to go,” Olson said. “So that’s increased the number of departures and perhaps bigger planes flying this weekend in and out of MSP.”
He said flight prices are slightly down from last year nationwide but Minnesotans may still pay higher fares.
“Here in Minneapolis, we tend to get stuck with slightly higher fares because there’s really one game in town, and that’s Delta,” Olson said. “They’re running so many of the flights out of this airport, and it’s so many travelers’ only option that they kind of get to set the standard of what they want to charge.”
If you’re planning travel for the holidays, he recommends booking now.
“The airlines seem to think that tons of people are going to be flying again over the holidays, and we have not seen major dips in prices around holiday flight pricing — that’s for sure,” Olson said. “The ‘sweet spot’ to book a cheap flight is more than a month to about three months before. They say the very best day is 44 days before travel, but for the holidays that may be a little longer.”
Some Minnesotans are also taking advantage of gas prices, which have dropped about 50 cents over the last month in Minnesota, now averaging below $3.44 per gallon, according to AAA.
There are currently 460 flights scheduled to leave MSP this Thursday.
Officials at MSP provided the following tips to help you with traveling this week, as well as tips from the Transportation Security Administration for those of you who are traveling with children:
- If traveling through Terminal 1, check the two checkpoint wait time boards when entering the lobby.
- Passengers going through Terminal 2 can reserve a spot in the security line by setting up an appointment HERE.
- Prebook parking online by CLICKING HERE to guarantee a spot and save up to $7 per day. You must book the spot at least 12 hours before you arrive at the airport.
- Pick up or drop off passengers at Terminal 1’s departures or arrivals levels.
- Drivers can use the cell phone lot on Post Road to wait for any arriving passengers before going to the passenger pickup areas outside the terminals.