Smooth start to busiest day ever at MSP Airport so far, officials say

February 5, 2018 GMT

Passengers taking early flights out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport found it smooth sailing before dawn Monday, but lines were expected to grow on what was expected to be the busiest day ever.

“It’s our Super bowl,” said Phil Burke, director of MSP Airport Operations. “This is our game day.”

More than 69,000 passengers were expected to be processed at MSP on post-Super Bowl Monday, double the average of 34,000 that normally pass through magnetometers on a typical day and well above the 37,000 that are screened daily during the busy spring break period.

The first fans showed up just hours after the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium. By 6 a.m., the main terminal was crowded, but lines hardly rivaled those Minnesotans are used to during spring break. The longest wait time at security check points had been 10 minutes, said TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers.

But less than an hour later, the security wait time had doubled to 20 minutes.

The airport was encouraging passengers to arrive at least two hours early to allow for enough time to check baggage and pass through security. Three hours was recommended for those needing to return a rental car.

Airport volunteers -- more than 100 of them - clad in purple vests fanned out throughout the main terminal to direct passengers, some jubilant others still bleary-eyed, to their airlines and checkpoints on the north and south end of the terminal. TSA brought in 100 extra workers to process the high volume of passengers along with 20 bomb sniffing dog teams to expedite the screening process.

Airport workers wearing flags that read “Standard” and “Pre Check” or “American Airlines” helped passengers find the correct lines and ticket counters.

Volunteer Brenda Kremer sent scores of passengers in the right direction, and dispensed advise that was helpful to anybody who bought a Super Bowl program.

“Take that out of your luggage,” she told passengers arriving at Door No. 3 on the upper level. “The hologram could set things off.”

The energy in the terminal was palpable as departing crowds experienced their last “Minnesota moment.” Candy MacNeil, of Toronto, was sporting a smile a mile wide. It helped that her Eagles won, but she said was impressed with the hospitality both at the airport and in the city.

“I thought maybe you’d treat Eagles fans badly,” she said after waking up after sleeping at the airport. She said her visit here has been “awesome.”

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768