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MSP Airport getting ready for influx of Final Four fans

April 04, 2019 06:52 PM

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is getting ready for the arrival of thousands of fans in advance of this weekend's Final Four.

Airport officials tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that they have been preparing for this weekend the past seven months.

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"The airport is the first impression and last impression for a lot of people coming to those events," said Phil Burke, the assistant director of customer experience at MSP. "We view ourselves as having a key role in that."

RELATED: Final Four festivities kick off on Friday

Burke said airport officials expect about 10,000 extra travelers on commercial flights, which is about a 30 percent boost from an average weekend. They have also gotten about 300 reservations for private jets, including the governors of several states with teams in the Final Four, along with plans for multiple fan charter flights.

The airport branded both terminals for the Final Four with signage, informational booths and several wall-size brackets.

Around Town: A look at this weekend's events

"It's a very good energy, very good vibe," said Jacob Shaw, a Michigan State fan who flew into MSP Thursday. "Everyone's excited for the Final Four."

About 500 volunteers have signed up to help out at the airport, guiding travelers to the light rail and other transportation options and passing out Final Four brochures.

"Just a few minutes ago, a lady stopped by and said the people (here) are the nicest of any airport she's ever been at," volunteer Laura Mascotti said.

There are also volunteers with therapy dogs greeting fans upon arrival.

"Dogs always bring a smile to people, and I think it also lowers your blood pressure after a long flight," volunteer Gail Daugherty said.

Those arriving Thursday noticed the cheerfulness

"Right off the plane, the people from Minnesota welcomed us right away," said James Thatcher, who is in town to cheer on Auburn this weekend. "The hospitality, I think, that's just the neatest thing to see about a Final Four."

Airport officials expect Friday and Tuesday to be the busiest travel days of the Final Four. The airport will kick off a special entertainment series Friday featuring DJs, dancers, comedians and more.

For more information on what to expect there, click here.

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Credits

Alex Jokich

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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