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Minneapolis is the 16th busiest airport in the US, but Monday it seemed much closer to number one. Post-Super Bowl crowds are flooding the airport to get back home.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is expected to have its busiest day in its history, with 70,000 passengers expected to fly out of the facility. And Tuesday is expected to be the airport’s second-busiest day of all time.
“It’s our Super Bowl,” Phil Burke, director of MSP Airport Operations, told The Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This is our game day.”
The airport is encouraging travelers to get to the airport at least three to four hours before their flights. It suggests following the 5-4-3-2-1 strategy. Leave your hotel 5 hours before departure, return your rental car 4 hours before, arrive at the check-in desk with three more hours to go, be in line at the security checkpoint at t-minus two hours and finally be at your departure gate an hour before your flight takes off.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the airport had already screened 22,938 passengers by 8 am, which is more than half the amount of people TSA sees on an average day.
The airport typically sees 34,000 people a day, while the busiest it’s ever been was last March with 47,000 travelers screened.
Fortunately, TSA checkpoints seemed to be moving at a reasonable pace despite the long lines — the longest wait time was 23 minutes at 8am, according TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers. Still, lines snaked through the terminal as shown in this timelapse:
All 21 screening lanes were open in the airport’s two terminals, including the international terminal. The airport is staffing up with 100 extra TSA officers and 20 bomb-sniffing dogs.
Odd sights were on display, with airport workers wearing flags to help travelers stay in the correct line.
Airport authorities also deployed 800 sleeping mats, dimmed the lights and kept sound to a minimum for everyone who had left the game but was waiting in the airport overnight for their flight.
Minneapolis is a Delta hub and the airline increased capacity to accommodate the crowds. United added a bunch of one-off flights for the big game, with American doing the same. CBS Minnesota reports that over 1 million visitors came to the Minneapolis metro area for the Super Bowl and about 1,100 private aircraft flew in for the event.
Here’s a peek at air traffic departing from or arriving at MSP this morning.
Featured image by Karen Bleirer / AFP / Getty Images.
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