Post-Christmas travel starts smoothly at MSP
The post-Christmas travel rush has, for some, been its own kind of holiday gift.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport reported fewer than 20 canceled flights and roughly 100 delays by Tuesday evening. Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to be the busiest travel days.
“I think the weather is probably the number one factor in what makes good travel during the holiday,” said Jeff Lea, the Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesperson. “I think it’s been very smooth when you look at years past, when you look at last winter.”
There have been some hiccups nationally. More than 100 Southwest flights were canceled and 917 Southwest flights were delayed on Monday, altogether accounting for 23% of its flights, according to Flight Aware. Fewer than a dozen flights were affected at MSP. The airline was back on track on Tuesday.
“This has been one of the easiest years by far for sure, hopefully it stays that way,” said Trevor Lock, who was returning to Nashville after visiting family in Minnesota for Christmas. “It’s been good.”
Lock and his family arrived at the airport four hours early on Tuesday.
“We didn’t have anything else to do so might as well sit down, grab a drink at one of the bars and restaurants and relax,” he said. “I think the flight home is pretty full.”
Lea expects 40,000 people will pass through TSA security checkpoints on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Dec. 21 and 22 were the busiest days ahead of Christmas, with just under 42,000 people passing through security on Thursday and 42,700 people on Friday.
The busy days followed a boost in air travel last month.
“We just got our November numbers and they were within 6% of 2019, which is very promising,” said Lea. “It’s the first time we’ve cracked that 10% gap for November so we’ll have to see how December works out.”
MSP is giving travelers the chance to beat security lines at Terminal 2 by pre-booking a spot. The pilot program is set to expire at the end of the year.
The airport has also opened up a second cell phone waiting lot along Post Road, which increases the number of spots from 40 to 140. Additionally, rideshare pickups have been moved from the departures level to the ground transportation center at Terminal 1.
“It seems like the organizations, the airlines and airports, are prepared for the rush,” said Walt Bielski, from Eden Prairie, who flew in Tuesday from Berlin. “I was shocked at how smoothly everything went.”
He suggests other travelers arrive at the airport early, with their boarding pass and required identification in hand.
Bielski said, “Be prepared.”