MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you are flying out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, plan on getting there even earlier than usual.
Travelers are now being advised to get to MSP two-and-a-half-hours early to make sure you make your flight.
Airport officials say a perfect storm of factors have led to some the longest security lines in years, which have caused a lot of people to miss flights.
On some days, there is no parking available at Terminal 1, which means travelers have to park at Terminal 2 and take the light rail and the tram.
Airport officials say if you are flying out of Terminal 2 – the old Humphrey Terminal – get there two hours early. And if you’re flying out of Terminal 1 – the main terminal, formerly known as the Lindberg Terminal – give yourself two and a half hours
Our brutal weather is partly to blame, which has more people booking trips to get out of town. And traffic is up six percent at the main terminal and 20 percent at Terminal Two.
Patrick Hogan, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, says parking problems are nothing new for the airport.
“They’re worse this year than they have been because we have so many people flying out,” Hogan said.
And once you get to your terminal, you’ll find long security lines in part because TSA budget cuts have meant fewer agents are available to man screening points.
“As long as you have more people trying to get through than we have capacity for screeners, you’re going to have these kinds of lines,” Hogan said.
And don’t count on a popular shortcut that savvy travelers like to use. The lightly-used screening point in the skyway connecting the two main concourses is often closed because of staffing problems.
Frequent travelers like Janet Keller are frustrated.
“Minneapolis just drives us crazy,” Keller said.
Infrequent travelers, like the Trudell family, took extra precautions.
“We came three hours early because we looked online and saw that they had long lines because they cut staff here, so we made sure we were extra, extra early,” Karen Trudell said.
Airport officials say things should get better after Easter, which is April 20 this year, as the spring break crunch eases.
As for the parking problems, Hogan says it’s actually the worst midweek. MSP has told the TSA more are needed, and MAC has also talked to the airlines about trying to space out their flights.
TSA Spokesperson Lorie Dankers denies that a shortage of personnel is creating problems. She says that in the month of March, screening times at any checkpoint only exceeded 30 minutes on three occasions.
She says staffing cuts at MSP and across the country are being offset by more people signing up for TSA’s pre-check service, where you can pay $85 to be able to go through an expedited screening process, which is valid for five years.
Dankers adds that MSP is fairing just the same as all other airports, with 97 percent of travelers getting through screening in 20 minutes or less.