MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It looked like the beginning of Thanksgiving weekend or just before Christmas, but not Oct. 15.

Thursday marks the beginning of the annual Education Minnesota Professional Conference — two days of conferences for teachers and two days of no class for students. Better known as “MEA Weekend,” it’s becoming prime time for long weekends away from home.

That led to long lines at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport starting last night, and especially Thursday morning. By 4:30 a.m., the lines for all three major checkpoints were backed up, with travelers standing shoulder-to-shoulder, wall-to-wall on the second level of the airport.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The faces were long as travelers snaked through the ticketing area to the checkpoints, where they were asked questions while putting their carry-ons and shoes and belts through metal detectors before getting scanned themselves.

Quick work by TSA personnel was able to thin out the lines by 6 a.m. with officials saying the wait in line averaged nine minutes. That’s somewhat remarkable considering that the wait is about five minutes when it’s not busy.

While some were headed out to relax, a group of high school kids from Prior Lake caught a flight to Washington DC and a field trip to all of the sites there, as well as Gettysburg and Mount Vernon. For many, it was a chance to see adults on the job before the sun came up.

“It’s really exciting to be with all of our friends and go on a cool trip,” McKenzie Carr of St. Michael’s School said. “But, it’s too early to get up.”

The group boarded a coach bus at 4:30 a.m. and made it to the airport before 6.

“I think it’s good to see how the adult world really works,” Bill Olson, who teaches social studies at St. Michael’s, said. “They told me some interesting things. They were stunned.”

MEA weekend in Minnesota is always the third week in October.

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