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5 reasons to love Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

July 03, 2022
5 min read
aviation museum at MKE
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If your travel takes to you to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to visit the Harley Davidson Museum, the Wisconsin State Fair, a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game or a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game, your gateway airport will be Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE).

This two-concourse airport is served by 10 airlines, and the folks here go the extra mile to please both local and visiting passengers.

Airport amenities include a USO center, a beer garden, a winter coat check service, souvenir cheese in charming shapes and, in a nod to the Harley Davidson factory and museum in town, free motorcycle parking (across the street from baggage claim and door 4).

Here are five other things that make Milwaukee's airport unique.

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Bookstore selling new and used books

(Photo by Harriet Baskas for The Points Guy)

There used to be a few used bookstores at airports around the country. However, now Renaissance Books at MKE is the only bookstore selling both new and used books inside a U.S. airport.

Located pre-security in the main terminal (another reason you’ll want to head to the airport early), this is one of those stuffed-to-the-rafters, books-in-boxes, you-never-know-what-treasures-you'll-find bookstores. The shop is open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

(Photo by Harriet Baskas for The Points Guy)

An aviation museum

(Photo by Harriet Baskas for The Points Guy)

MKE’s Mitchell Gallery of Flight is in the same pre-security area as the USO and Renaissance Books, giving you another reason to get to the airport early.

The nonprofit museum is open year-round for 24 hours a day, and it highlights Wisconsin’s flying heritage with exhibits, displays, photos and artifacts. Admission is free.

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Inside you’ll find lots of vintage aircraft models, displays on military aviation history and space exploration and exhibits on North Central Airlines, which was founded as Wisconsin Central Airlines in 1944. The "people" section includes memorabilia from the August 1927 visit of aviator Charles Lindbergh, artifacts relating to Captain James Lovell — who grew up in Milwaukee and became an astronaut in the Gemini and Apollo programs — and a portrait of airport namesake General William “Billy” Mitchell that was displayed in the original airport terminal in the 1940s.

One of the newest exhibits honors Milwaukee Marine Corps aviator Major Christine Westrich — one of the first 10 female Marine Corps aviators to complete pilot and naval flight officer training and fly in combat aircraft.

The original recombobulation area

(Photo by Harriet Baskas for The Points Guy)

Nowadays plenty of airports have a post-security area with a bench or a table for travelers to use when putting their belts and shoes back on or re-packing all the stuff they had to take out of their carry-on bags.

MKE has one too. However, back in December 2008 the airport smartly branded these spaces — which are found just past the security checkpoints on Concourse C and Concourse D — as “Recombobulation Areas.”

Now, the Recombobulation Area is more than just a nice airport amenity. It has been a question on "Jeopardy!" and was named "The Most Creative Word of the Year" by the American Dialect Society.

Moss wall

(Photo by Harriet Baskas for The Points Guy)

A living wall made from moss was established in the MKE main terminal in 2019. It’s made of fern, pillow and mood moss treated with a non-toxic preservation liquid. Plus, it has an MKE logo in the middle. The lush moss wall has become a popular spot for travelers to meet up at and a place for passengers to take photos and selfies.

Star treatment for lost stuffed animals

(Photo by Harriet Baskas for The Points Guy)

It can be traumatic for a kid to lose or leave behind a beloved stuffed animal at the airport. MKE gets that. Since 2020, the airport has been using social media to effectively reunite stuffed animals turned in at the lost and found desk with their rightful owners.

One heartwarming reunion of a teddy bear and a young boy took place in February when Ezekiel Burnett’s mom spotted "Original Teddy" (a stuffed toy Ezekiel left behind at MKE) on her social media feed.

While some stuffed animals are waiting for their owners to claim them, the MKE marketing team takes them on tours of the airport. They film the tours and share them on social media, where more than 6 million people have tuned in to check on the toys’ adventures and status.

If a traveler spots the stuffed animals out in the terminal "on tour," MKE staff will give the traveler an “I met Violet” sticker honoring the stuffed purple monkey that has become the program’s mascot.

(Photo by Harriet Baskas for The Points Guy)
Featured image by (Photo by Harriet Baskas for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees